A school environment that promotes resilience and is safe, respectful and supportive of mental health issues is a priority for all Victorian schools. Schools are able to create, influence and maintain environments that promote healthy minds and respond to mental health issues effectively.
How can schools support safe, inclusive, empowering and positive mental health environments?
The school environment has the powerful capacity to influence a student’s understanding and experience of wellbeing and mental health. Schools can develop and maintain strategies that promote a positive environment where healthy minds and resilience thrives and where the school community is able to identify and respond effectively to mental illness. By fostering safe and inclusive environments, schools can support students to achieve positive learning and wellbeing outcomes while feeling safe, supported and able to act when they have concerns.
Schools can create and maintain positive environments that promote mental health in various ways, including:
- inviting parents, carers and the broader community to education programs run by the school or external providers on building resilience and managing emotions
- ensuring there are physical spaces in the classroom that promote group work and collaboration.
- ensuring children and young people are able to voice their opinions in the classroom and school, such as through the Student Representative Committee (SRC) and other leadership activities. Providing a small budget to SRC or student leadership teams will help foster this voice
- communicating the school expectations to all children and young people and their families. Children and young people should also have involvement in developing the school expectations
- using buddy programs, cross-age tutoring and peer support programs to help create safe environments where children and young people look after one another
- fostering transition programs between each class within a school and between schools
- discussing in classes how bullying and positive and negative interactions and relationships feel
- ensuring school common areas, such as play equipment and sporting grounds, promote physical safety
- having teachers and other school personnel on yard duty wear high visibility vests or jackets so all children and young people can easily identify the location of a teacher
- recognising and supporting the positive mental health and wellbeing of staff in the school. This may include through team teaching, coaching and recognising individual staff achievement.
- MindMatters - case studies on mental health promotion in secondary schools from the national mental health initiative for secondary schools
The following tools help schools to promote multiculturalism and students with additional needs:
The following resources are available from KidsMatter, the national primary school mental health initiative: