Enhancing mental health support in schools

To support school communities to effectively identify and intervene early with the mental health needs of children and young people, the Victorian Government has announced the Victorian Anti-Bullying and Mental Health Initiative (VABMHI).​

VABMHI's mental health focus - Enhancing Mental Health Support in Schools initiative - aims to:

  • provide enhanced mental health services to young people in Victorian government secondary schools in 2018
  • build the capability of regional and school staff to support students with mental health issues.

About the initiative

We have partnered with headspace to deliver this mental health support:

  • One on one student counselling sessions for students in Victorian government secondary schools. These sessions are designed to increase the availability of mental health support for students, improve mental health outcomes and assist students in finding the right support as appropriate.
  • School capacity building and training across Victoria. Training includes SAFEMinds sessions, SAFEMinds train the trainer sessions and suicide risk continuum training sessions offered at no cost to participants.
  • Psychological support sessions for Student Support Services (SSS) staff to promote their own health and wellbeing.

Student counselling

Secondary students of Victorian government schools will have easier access to face-to-face and telephone counselling services from headspace. Students can access one on one counselling services via a referral made through a centralised contact person within their school.

To be eligible for this service, students must:

  • be enrolled at a Victorian government secondary school at the time of referral, and
  • be identified as experiencing mild to moderate mental health issues.

Counselling sessions will be delivered face-to-face through 24 headspace centres located across Victoria. Schools will need to make contact with their local headspace centre.

The headspace regional phone counselling service supports students living in rural, regional and remote areas (generally those in Victorian government schools more than 60km from a headspace centre) who cannot easily access face-to-face counselling.

Schools with students accessing this telephone service are encouraged to set up a counselling room that is private, safe, quiet, comfortable and free of distractions. For tips on how to create this space in your school, please see our best practice guide – setting up a phone counselling room at your school (pdf - 59.67kb)

Parents may also access a fact sheet’ (pdf - 337.39kb) for further information.

School capacity building and training

headspace will offer refreshed SAFEMinds one day training to increase foundational knowledge of mental health and emerging concerns. The training is avialble to primary and secondary school staff and regional staff.

The training has been designed to address key concerns by teachers in Victorian schools and aims to:

  • enhance school capacity to pick up mental health issues early, particularly anxiety, depression and self-harm
  • increase parental engagement and promote mental health and early intervention, and
  • assist staff to develop clear, effective referral pathways between schools and community youth and mental health services.

SAFEMinds train the trainer two-day sessions are designed for lead teachers and SSS staff. This training aims to upskill participants and enable them to tailor and deliver SAFEMinds training in the future without the need for headspace trainers.

Suicide prevention pilot

headspace will provide suicide risk continuum training for school staff such as wellbeing coordinators, SSS staff, year level coordinators and assistant principals.

This training is more specialised and focuses on identification, support and responses to self-harm and suicidal behaviour. The training will help participants to:

  • understand how to respond to low, medium and high risk situations
  • apply psychological first aid in crisis situations
  • assess risk and what is needed to support the student
  • know how to engage with and refer to external services.

Use the  training flyer (pdf - 2.94mb) to promote the training to staff.

Information on how to access any of the services on offer under this initiative can be found in Enhancing Mental Health Support in Schools – Information for Schools (docx - 73.2kb).



Emotional distress affects children and young people and school communities every year. This may include mental health issues such as anxiety and depression and self-harm behaviours. These issues have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of children and young people, including their educational, developmental and wellbeing outcomes.