Like all other types of health promotion, mental health promotion activities work best when they are integrated into broader health promotion and educational activities.
Linking mental health promotion to activities such as drug education, sexuality education and social and emotional learning will help students and staff to not only recognise how mental health fits in with other activities but will also mean mental health promotion is not seen to be an add on to existing activities.
How schools can integrate mental health promotion
Many schools are already integrating mental health promotion and planning into their current curriculum and activities. However, this may be happening in an ad-hoc or incidental manner.
Schools can integrate mental health into their current activities by:
- acknowledging integrated health promotion (including mental health promotion) as an area of priority in strategic planning processes
- discussing mental health promotion as part of school wellbeing team meetings and exploring possibilities for cross curricular approaches to integrated mental health learning and teaching
- developing lesson plans and delivering curriculum that links mental health to other health activities. This might include:
- discussing how physical activity and healthy eating link to positive mental health
- outlining the connection between mental illness and drug use, such as cannabis use
- discussing the link between body image and mental health
- exploring mental health in the context of promoting positive and respectful relationships. This may include exploring the negative effects on mental health of bullying and cyberbullying. Subjects such as drama and English can allow students can act, watch, read or write about mental health issues
- promoting positive mental health through inclusive group sporting activities encourages team work, new relationships and physical activity
Schools that are interested in integrating mental health promotion as part of their wider planning and curriculum development may be interested in the following resources: