This article also appears in the CSRP Newsletter 2023, Rethink, Refocus, Release.

With the support from the “Mental Health Initiatives Funding Scheme” by the HKSAR Health Bureau, the Suicide Help Intervention through Education and Leadership Development for Students (S.H.I.E.L.D.S.) programme was launched in 2022. The programme’s goal is to educate and empower secondary school students to become proactive gatekeepers and lay leaders in mental health for their school communities. This is achieved through comprehensive mental health education and training, and practical experience in developing student-led projects within their own schools.

During the 2022-2023 school year, a total of 90 student leaders and 37 school staff members from eight local secondary schools participated in two rounds of the programme. Students participated in several inter-school activities, including foundational education workshops and expert training day camps, where they gained knowledge on mental health and suicide, learned about how to respond to and refer peers to professional help, the role of peer supporters, and the importance of self-care.

After the programme, the students shared that they found the trainings to be a valuable learning experience, where they were able to enhance their skills in assessing and providing emotional support to peers in distress. Additionally, the students reflected that not only was the student-led project an opportunity to share what they had learned and enhance their peers’ awareness of mental health, it was also a valuable experience in learning to plan and implement activities for their school communities!

The training by HKU allowed us to learn how to assess our peers’ conditions. Now when I encounter peers with negative emotions, I won’t be that scared.

I think the best activity from the training was the Detective Game in the Day Camp. There were cases that simulated our peers’ emotions, and we could apply the response skills that we learned to each case. This left the deepest impression on me.