Mental health charity aims to raise awareness of bullying

Rotherham Mind hope to raise awareness of bullying. Image courtesy of Pimkie via Flickr.

A mental health charity has announced a number of courses that will improve understanding of targeted bullying in Rotherham.

Rotherham Mind, based at 101 Effingham Street in Rotherham Town Centre, has launched a series of ‘Understanding Targeted Bullying’ courses – which will raise awareness of homophobic, racist and disability-related bullying.

“Positive mental health”

The charity, who are part of the national Mind charity, have developed the sessions in response to proactive work by Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council in developing robust anti-bullying standards.

These day-long courses will be held on Tuesday 1 November 2011 and Tuesday 7 February 2012 from 9.30am to 4pm.

Nikki Ellen, Rotherham Mind’s Mental Health Trainer, said: “To the best of our knowledge, there are no other local Mind Associations in the country who delivers a similarly comprehensive training programme about young people’s mental health issues.

“Our courses are of direct benefit to the staff who attend because they provide a range of strategies for how to combat each of these types of bullying, are delivered by a teacher who has firsthand experience of dealing with the reality of these different types of bullying and it also raises delegates’ awareness of the prevalence and mental health consequences of each type of bullying.

“Positive mental health is the foundation for achievement at school and work – and also for happy, successful relationships.

“Bullying – through the fear, anxiety and isolation it causes – has a detrimental cost to both the individual and wider society.”

Reducing homophobic bullying

The courses are aimed at frontline professionals who are working with children that are being bullied and Rotherham Mind are aiming to address these issues by discussing strategies that will combat bullying.

The course was influenced by Stonewall’s 2007 report into the reality of school life where, for the majority of LGBT students, homophobic bullying is the second most prevalent form of bullying, after weight-related bullying.

Rotherham Mind are also holding an additional short course about homophobic bullying on Tuesday 20 March 2012 from 4pm to 5.30pm.

“Most teachers have received no or minimal training on how to deal with homophobic bullying or how to address the high incidence of homophobic language in the classroom,” said Ms Ellen.

“We thought it [is] necessary to begin to address these issues and raise awareness of how learning in a homophobic environment is detrimental for everyone because it breeds a lack of respect and tolerance, [which are] essential components of a cohesive society.

“We also wanted frontline professionals to understand how homophobic bullying can lead to truancy, underachievement and an increased risk of suicide, self-harm and depression.

“The current problems surrounding these forms of bullying are complex and varied.

“The majority of young lesbian, gay and bisexual students are unable to report homophobic bullying because they haven’t even come out, and so they have to suffer in silence.”

Highlighting vulnerability

The charity, which provides community mental health support across Rotherham, has trained over 150 delegates so far and these courses will ensure that even more delegates will be made aware of different types of bullying.

They are also holding two additional short courses about racist bullying on Tuesday 6 December 2011 from 4pm to 5.30pm and about disability-related bullying on Tuesday 28 February 2012 from 4pm to 5.30pm.

It is hoped the courses would help to reduce the amount of young people who are bullied because they have Asperger’s Syndrome.

Ms Ellen added: “We felt it [is] important to highlight how vulnerable a young person, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, is to being bullied and to provide frontline staff with an opportunity to learn how the unique characteristics of Asperger’s Syndrome can make that young person more likely to be bullied by their peers.

“For example, a difficulty with reading social cues and an inability to lie can make that young person more likely to be bullied by their peers.

“Racist bullying is an area which most staff was aware of but wanted more strategies to equip them for how to deal with it.

“For young people with Asperger’s Syndrome, they may not even know that they are even bullied.

“And, for young people experiencing racist bullying, their experience of racism is often so all pervasive that, unless a white member of staff declares their anti-racism position, they may assume that there will be no action.

“Their experience may be compounded by racism from the wider community and popular press.”

Booking a place

The day-long courses are priced at £40 for delegates working in the Rotherham area and £80 for delegates working outside of Rotherham, while the short courses are priced at £18 for delegates working in the Rotherham area and £36 for delegates working outside of Rotherham.

All places must be booked by the day before the course’s start date.

For further information or to make a booking, contact Lee Wilkes, Rotherham Mind’s Administration Officer, on lee@rotherhammind.co.uk or 01709 554755.

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This news story was self-published in August 2011.

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