Peer education for mental health throughout schools in Bitola

After the completion of six training modules for peer educators, the period began where already trained peer educators shared their knowledge in schools and faculties in Bitola. The workshops for peer educators were attended by 58 peer educators, and about 42 peer educators finished, 41 of whom, as the most motivated in teams, shared their presentations in the field with their peers. More than 2,000 students from almost all elementary (from 7th to 9th grade) and secondary schools, as well as some of the faculties in our city, make it the most extensive peer education conducted in Bitola. Thanks to the pedagogical and psychological services from the schools with which we were in constant communication. The presentations were well prepared by the peer educators themselves and were well received with great enthusiasm during the implementation and often had good feedback from their classmates. It was not always possible to get opinions from the listeners, but with the help of various games and activities integrated into the topic of the presentation, mental health and its importance were brought closer to a large number of young people.

The period for the implementation of the presentations was relatively long and from that arose the need for the peer educators to have additional mentoring sessions. Those sessions took place in the Youth Center and were intended for those educators who had already conducted presentations and activities, so they shared their impressions in a common atmosphere with the rest. Personal stories were shared about how they felt during the presentations, what problems they encountered during the implementation, and what kind of attitude they encountered with the teachers and professional services. These meetings helped the peer educators a lot, especially those who were conducting activities of this type for the first time, but they also felt free to express themselves and learn something additional from the more experienced ones.

In addition to these additional mentoring sessions, the peer educators proposed to hold additional meetings where it will be possible to participate in something creative, but also to learn something extra. From those proposals came the workshops with creative expression of the messages that the peer educators had already shared among themselves during the peer school in the past period. Here, the peer educators were offered many opportunities for self-expression through the written word, writing verses and singing.

With these activities, the Peer School for Mental Health of Children and Youth reached its final stage. The project „Peer school for children and youth mental health“ of the Youth Association YMCA Bitola has been implemented in the frames of the regional program for local democracy in Western Balkans2 Reload2, financed by the European Union (EU), implemented by United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The project is co-financed by the Municipality of Bitola. The project has been implemented by the YMCA in cooperation with Poraka Nova and Amos.