A FORMER student returned to his school to give inspirational mental health awareness talks to children about how he overcame the death of his father as a teenager.

Alfie Swaby, a former pupil at Castle View School, Foksville Road, gave several talks in front to the children about positive mental health, after his dad passed away in 2011.

The 22-year-old, who left the school in 2013, told the Echo that the response from the children had been amazing. He said: “They’ve been unreal.

“It’s inspiring to know that they were listening. They really were. Several came up to me afterwards and wanted to know more about my journey and what they can do to stay positive.

“It’s so inspirational to know that the talks are helping the children.

“It’s all about turning a positive into a negative and maintaining the positivity.

“The talks yesterday were about encouraging others what they need to do to speak to someone.”

Alfie’s talks on Thursday were part of World Mental Health Awareness Day, which encourages people to speak out about their mental health and that it’s “okay not to be okay”.

Alfie described how his father’s death impacted him. He said: “I had a good childhood.

“My father’s passing was a dark time for me.

“I felt like I had to step up and be the man of the house. I bottled everything up and didn’t speak up about it to anyone.

“Getting over self harm was a huge part of my journey.

“Opening up with friends and family was a huge step in the right direction.

“Counselling and the school helped me too. They made me realise I had something to do with myself and look forward to everyday.

“I still have the dark days but I know how to deal with them and get through it.”

Megan Clark, the well-being lead at Castle View School, said: “We want our young people to be strong academically but more importantly be equipped emotionally to take on life’s challenges with resilience.

“Life can be tough and we want our young people to know that talking about the tough stuff is so important.”