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PSD tackles aspects of life

Personal and Social Development (PSD) is an interactive and informal subject which encourages the discussion on various aspects of life. Children at primary level embark on a journey whereby they begin to learn about themselves as developing individuals.

Topics are centred around the self and the skills taught pertain to the necessary tools required for the developmental state. Apart from promoting the children's spiritual, social, moral and cultural development, PSD provides them with skills and processes involved in becoming happy and fulfilled individuals within a healthy and supportive environment.

The PSD syllabus deals with self-esteem, citizenship, communication (this year it will include media education and safe Internet and mobile use), relationships and solving conflicts, safety at home and around other people, sexuality education and practical skills with regard to decision-making, time study and stress management.

The syllabus is reviewed and changed regularly to reflect the children's needs. From time to time different issues emerge which necessitate these changes. One recent development which was proposed to us is mental health.

At a recent meeting which the primary PSD teachers had with the Mental Health Association (MHA), association president Catherine Gonzi highlighted the importance of being aware and educated about mental health.

This was in line with the latest development in the field by the European Federation of Associations of Families of People with Mental Health (EUFAMI) - mental illness is now one of the most common disabilities in the Euro-pean Union... the World Health Organisation has estimated that depressive illness will double by 2020.

The project aims at divulging much needed information and at discussing issues related to mental health. To reach these aims, the MHA has provided primary PSD teachers with three books by Carmel G. Cauchi, which deal with three different real-life family situations.

PSD teachers are in the process of creating lesson plans to promote awareness and reduce the stigma attached to mental health illness. Since this process is initiated by the EUFAMI, it's not just a local project but a European one which will be evaluated through a questionnaire distributed among the pupils.

As with all other PSD sessions, the methodology adopted is through storytelling, role plays, discussions and sharing experiences. In this way children are given the possibility to acquire new skills and compare them to those already assimilated, thus building a strong foundation for new competencies.

It comes as no surprise, therefore, that the children in all schools look forward to their PSD sessions with great enthusiasm.

Lawrence Muscat ([email protected]) is EO PSD and Gaetano Mifsud ([email protected]) is PRO, Personal and Social Development Teachers' Association

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