Mental health promoting schools have strong relationships with the families in their school communities and can draw upon their community service partnerships when needed. Where a school has a strong relationship with families, students are more likely to feel connected to the school. In addition, families are more likely to seek the help and support of schools if and/or when issues or concerns arise. Where this support is external to the school, the community service partnerships that the school has developed, such as with Child and Adolescent area Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are important sources of help and support.
How can schools foster family and community service partnerships?
Many schools already recognise the importance of fostering family partnerships and how partnerships with families and communities can enhance the resilience and academic outcomes of students.
Schools build positive family and community service partnerships through a range of activities including:
- operating family drop in spaces in the school so families can connect with one another. This is particularly effective in areas with high migrant populations and increases both the families connection to the school while also enhancing their positive mental health
- providing parenting seminars or classes in collaboration with community service organisations
- organising school events that are aimed at bringing the school community together, such as school barbeques or community picnics. This is often used as a meet and greet at the start of a school year and is run at a time when families are more able to attend (such as on a weekend)
- organising family days and grandparents days so families can feel more engaged in the working of the school
- exploring whether the local mobile library can make a monthly visit to the school. Alternatively, purchase a selection of parenting books that parents can borrow or read in the parent drop in space
- recognising that transitions are stressful to families and provide practical tools and advice to manage the transition process
- ensuring there are appropriate referral pathways, for instances where a student presents with a mental health concern, both in the school and externally and that everyone in the school is aware of the pathways.
- assign the role of family engagement to a member of the wellbeing team. This staff member may also be the responsible for fostering community relationships
Kids Helpline - provides phone, internet and email counselling services to children and young people
CAMHS - provides information on the CAMHS program, including CAMHS locations and phone numbers
CAMHS and Schools Early Action Program (CASEA) - provides information on the primary school early intervention program
Orygen Youth Health - provides information about mental health issues for young people, including fact sheets
Beyond Blue - provides information and resources about depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder
Mental Health Advice - contact information for advice, support and answers to questions relating to mental health
Headspace- Australia's national youth mental health foundation