Schools 2020-03-06T16:18:09+00:00

Cycle Against Suicide School Programme – HEADSTRONG

Cycle Against Suicide’s Secondary School Programme.

One in three young people in Ireland will experience some form of mental health issue in any given year.  It is important therefore to empower young people with the tools they need to recognise, understand and deal with mental health issues.  To this end, Cycle Against Suicide has merged its Ambassador School Programme  with the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s HEADSTRONG programme to create a very strong evidence based mental health education programme available to secondary schools. This new programme, HEADSTRONG supports mental health education in schools reduces stigma and promotes resilience.

HEADSTRONG will support teachers in the delivery of the Wellbeing and SPHE curriculum by providing them with the resources they need to engage students in their learning. This programme works by transforming the curriculum from knowledge taught in classrooms to a practical, resilience building tool that young people can use every day and in a variety of situations.

HEADSTRONG works in three core ways:

  1. Providing resources:  Cycle Against Suicide provides all coursework and exercises toolkits.  These resources enhance the mental health literacy of both students and teachers and help stimulate a search for knowledge, such that students are empowered beyond only what they are told but can self-reflect and build resilience.
  2. Student Led Peer Learning: HEADSTRONG has a strong peer-to-peer education component.  A small group of students supported by a teacher from schools, attend a day of training (free of charge) provided by Cycle Against Suicide. Students then return to their respective schools to train the rest of their school population throughout the school year.
  3. Teacher Support: Throughout the school year, teachers will be supported by a core member of Cycle Against Suicide schools’ team.

HEADSTRONG strengthens the four components of the school mental health curriculum in the following ways:

Component 1; Develop students’ confidence and competence to act in support of mental health and well-being.

Knowledge is power.  HEADSTRONG helps teachers and students understand mental health in all its dimensions.  It uses unique learning tools to break down the nuances and intricacies of mental health issue and conditions by providing information in a way that is relatable and understandable.  With knowledge that goes beyond mere familiarity with the name of conditions, teachers and students become fully competent and confident to discuss how to optimize and maintain good mental health.

Component 2: Develops students’ self-awareness about the attitudes, values and beliefs that underpin health, personal lifestyle behaviours and choices.

HEADSTRONG helps develop practical rather than theoretical understanding of mental health.  While the curriculum takes a broad strokes approach that provides general information, HEADSTRONG is designed to help students look inward, using the information in the curriculum to identify and understand how the behaviours, attitudes and values they hold or come across each day affects their mental health and those of others. 

Component 3: Develop students’ capacity to empathise with others through a greater understanding of different life experiences, motives and feelings of other individuals and groups.

Stigma is a major challenge facing those who struggle with mental health issues. HEADSTRONG advances this element of the curriculum through a strong focus on reducing stigma. By promoting the message that ‘It’s OK not to feel OK; and It’s absolutely OK to ask for help.  HEADSTRONG advances the curriculum goal of empathy, rather than stigma and breaks down the shame associated with mental ill health.  This sets students free to be open about their struggles and also to understand the struggles of friends or classmates.

Component 4: Examine the factors which impact on mental health and well-being and develop young people’s ability to act on behalf of personal and group health and well-being.

HEADSTRONG enables students to put the information they learn through the curriculum to use in practical ways.  It provides tools that helps each student take the right action by teaching them how to identify when they need help and where to seek help, how to help others, as well as the right coping skills and treatments for each disorder.  Practical tools that Cycle Against Suicide and its diverse partners have used and proven effective will be provided.

By helping prepare students for success in each of these areas of the curriculum, HEADSTRONG ensures that the efforts that teachers put into the mental health and well-being component of SPHE is actually useful to students. The HEADSTRONG programme effects change in young people as they are empowered with knowledge and tools to become resilient during a difficult time, to cope with mental health challenges and even thrive in the midst of such challenges.

Please click on the link below to access information in relation to relevance to the curriculum

Relevance To Curriculum

If you would like further information about getting your school involved in Cycle Against Suicide, please contact

Anchor School Programme

Each year Cycle Against Suicide partners with a number of schools along the Cycle route to co-host an amazing mental health event at each school.

SPHE Classroom Resource

Welcome to the SPHE resource section of our website. This resource, which will be updated monthly, can be used to support teaching of SPHE in the classroom.

Student Leaders’ Congress

4,000 secondary students and early schools leavers recently attended our Student Congress 2020, a mental health education day. Plans are in development for our Student Congress 2021 and will be advertised shortly.

Fundraise for Us

If you’re in the process of choosing a charity, we would LOVE if you would consider us.


The 2019 date for #SchoolsGoOrange is February 13th 2020.

Cycle Against Suicide