A free national program is helping to generate greater awareness around student mental health and assist teachers to introduce mindfulness into the classroom through a range of guided meditations and activities, tailored to each year level.
In the past 12 months, over 18,400 school children across 23 schools throughout Australia have benefitted from this charitable partnership between mindfulness education organisation Smiling Mind and Frasers Property Australia.
Together, Frasers Property and Smiling Mind are hoping to bring the benefits of their free mindfulness program to 75,000 children at 90 schools.
The first year of the program has seen a steady uptake of the Smiling Mind program at schools in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland, with 921 teachers now having participated in the organisation’s training workshops.
Workshops for parents have also been held at each participating school, in a bid to introduce the concept and practice of mindfulness to parents and the wider community.
“Working with students in particular is so important to build awareness and resilience around mental health. It doesn’t matter what age they start,” said Dr Addie Wootten, Smiling Mind Chief Executive Officer.
“With one in four secondary students and one in seven primary students suffering from a diagnosed mental illness it’s vital that we, as a community, do everything we can to take a proactive approach to preventing this health issue into the future.”
Through the Smiling Mind app, teachers can access the program’s guided meditations and mindfulness activities. Teachers also receive support from the organisation over the whole school year to help introduce mindfulness into their classrooms.
Roxburgh Rise Primary School in Melbourne is one of the 23 schools that have already signed up for the program, which will be delivered to its more than 700 students, 530 families and 42 teachers.
“Our school has a strong focus on student and staff wellbeing and we are aware that mindfulness can play a beneficial role in supporting wellbeing,” said Principal Chris Bozikas.
“We were very excited to have the opportunity to offer the Smiling Mind program to our own school community. I really hope all the students, teachers and parents get on board and learn these valuable techniques.”
According to Dr Wootten, some of the benefits of introducing mindfulness into schools can include:
• Managing stress
• Developing emotional intelligence
• Enhancing creativity
• Enhancing decision making and problem-solving skills
• A sense of calm, clarity and contentment
“Teachers learn the skills they need to guide their students through the program and they can apply the techniques to manage their own stress. By including parents in each of the school communities we work in means they, along with teachers, can also support their children and have the opportunity to learn the techniques themselves,” Dr Wootten explained.
Craigieburn South Primary School in Melbourne has also adopted the Smiling Mind program this year. Student Wellbeing Leading Teacher, Marisa Corsetti, said that since introducing Smiling Mind into the school’s classrooms, both the students and teachers are feeling calmer and more positive.
“I have seen a real improvement in students in their ability to reflect on their emotions as well as managing their emotions to support positive outcomes,” she said.
“Students are recognising when they need time to calm down and are requesting Smiling Mind. They look forward to whole class Smiling Mind sessions as part of their daily routine. The whole school participates in Smiling Mind each Monday morning at assembly to commence their week positively.
“The benefits to teachers receiving the education around mindfulness are longstanding and something they will be able to draw on for many years to come,” Mrs Corsetti added.
Schools interested in participating in the Smiling Mind program can find out more by clicking here.