Promoting healthy minds for living and learning

three primary girls sitting with a labriadorVictorian schools have a range of strategies to promote healthy minds and positive mental health, include creating safe environments, teaching social and emotional learning and recognising the importance of families.

Education Minister James Merlino said schools create environments where children and young people can thrive, learn and grow.

“Additionally, the Department of Education and Training invests significantly in health and wellbeing support for children and young people - approximately $200 million annually across a range of services both in schools and through tertiary health institutions, including provision of allied health workers such as social workers and psychologists,” he said.

The Department also runs programs that specifically address mental health, such as Promoting Healthy Minds for Living and Learning: An initiative of the Victorian Mental Health Reform Strategy 2009 - 2019, which supports schools to create environments that promote positive mental health for students, and SAFEMinds, a comprehensive professional learning package for schools and families addressing the mental health needs of young people, developed by headspace.

A cluster of schools in Langwarrin are creating a new approach to student and community wellbeing.

Elisabeth Murdoch College, Langwarrin Primary School, Langwarrin Park Primary School and Woodlands Primary School have united to create the Langwarrin Positive Education Network, which will combine Positive Psychology with best practice teaching to encourage students, the schools and community to flourish.

Network coordinator Sarah Roney said by building resilience, connection, and social and emotional skills, young people are better prepared to manage challenges and reach their academic and personal potential.

“The schools of Langwarrin are committed to nurturing the wellbeing of all students. By forming the Positive Education Network we are creating a proactive model of wellbeing that will enable all young people to flourish,” she said.

The network will incorporate Positive Psychology with evidence-based mental health frameworks KidsMatter (for primary schools) and MindMatters (for high schools).

“Over the next two years there will be an investment in the professional development of teachers, explicit teaching of social and emotional skills in the classroom and increased support for parents and families,” Ms Roney said.

In 2016 Elisabeth Murdoch College created a wellbeing week to promote awareness of mental health issues and support services. During this week there were various activities, one of which was training in SAFEMinds and Positive Education.

As featured in Leader Newspapers on 8 May, 2017.