The Harmony Workshops are Garda vetted through the Cork Education Training Board (ETB).
Since its inception in 2009, The Harmony Workshops has been delivering drug & alcohol, education & prevention workshops to youth organisations around Ireland such as Foróige, Youthreach, CTC (Community Training Centres) and Garda Youth Diversion Projects. Since 2014, it has now delivered a multiple of full-day & half-day workshops to over 60 post-primary secondary schools around the country.
“This well facilitated, distinctive, interactive drug and alcohol related programme was warmly received by students and is a very meaningful and significant educational addition to any health education programme.”
– Kevin Barragry (Transition Year Co-ordinator, Presentation Secondary School, Kilkenny).
Full day workshops
The morning workshops The morning sessions involve contextualising the underlying causes of poor mental health and drug/alcohol misuse through the music, lyrics and music videos of music artists who have written about or experienced dual diagnosis. The evidence students discover is supported by the theories of the public health biopsychosocial model, the drug triangle (epidemiological) and the impacts of substance misuse on Maslow’s hierarchy of basic human needs.
Through the morning workshops students:
- Gain a knowledge of the psychopathology (root cause) of poor mental health and substance misuse – dual diagnosis,
- Identify if they are at risk to a future substance misuse issue,
- Understand the negative impacts of smoking cannabis/marijuana,
- Recognise the short and long term impact that alcohol has on the developing teenage brain,
- Learn through role play techniques how to combat peer pressure around drug/alcohol use,
- How to enjoy alcohol free nights out.
External environmental impacts on mental health & substance misuse:
- Community, culture & society,
- Peer pressure,
- Racism & bullying
- Media – music, film, advertising, sponsorship
- Digital social platforms
Internal environmental impacts on substance misuse:
- Family and personal background & history – biopsychosocial
- Current family use or misuse of substances,
- Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) – childhood trauma
- Genetics, age, sex & mental health.
- Recognise signs and personal hazards to misusing drugs or alcohol,
- Contextualise the underlying causes of why some individuals self-medicate poor mental health with alcohol or substances to mask painful mental or emotional processes,
- Build empathy towards individuals coping with alcoholism / drug addiction,
- Become aware of the devastating, long term effects of a life with dual diagnosis,
- Appreciate that supports are available and people can recover.
The afternoon workshops
An experiential, creative writing workshop allows students to ‘walk in the shoes’ of someone coping with poor mental health or/and drug/alcohol misuse by writing and performing a rap/poem/song in class. Built on the learning of the morning workshops, the patterns, causes and effects (epidemiology) of substance misuse are ‘given a voice’ by students, developing awareness and insight.
Mental health, building resilience and natural highs
Throughout the morning workshops students will have become aware of the importance of:
- Continuing in further education/trade/skills,
- Seeking support to deal with ACEs, childhood trauma, emotional or psychological issues.
Students will also build on and develop a personal, ‘My Emotional Toolkit’ to manage stress, anxiety or depression by:
- Sharing difficult mental or emotional experiences with a family member, friend or counsellor
- Understand the science and importance of sport & exercise to build physical and mental health, self-esteem and emotional well being
- Utilising music as a therapeutic tool to cope with stress, anxiety and other challenging emotions, ,
- Become aware of the benefits of mindfulness meditation
Other resilience measures and natural highs include:
Creating self-expression through; music, singing, writing, drawing/painting or dance,
Creating your own safe space and world through hobbies, interests and pastimes.
“This is an age appropriate drug and alcohol program which is delivered by an experienced and passionate facilitator on a level that young people can understand and interact with in an enjoyable way.” – SMART Garda Youth Diversion Project, Trim, Co Meath.
The talk and presentation is an abbreviated version of the day long workshop over 3 hours with a shorter creative writing rap/poetry/song performance workshop.
Due to time constraints, open class discussion, peer pressure role play or how to enjoy alcohol free nights out can not be delivered.
“My overall experience of The Harmony Program was brilliant. It changed my views on drugs and alcohol and what it can do to your life. It was life changing”.
– Student Niamh, St, Declan’s College, Co. Waterford.