Developed for schools and early learning centres, a new mental wellbeing toolkit aims to maximise the mental wellbeing of students and prevent the development of mental health conditions.
Produced by Prevention United, a charity dedicated to preventing mental health conditions, in partnership with education supply business Winc, the toolkit shifts the focus from solely identifying and supporting students with mental health conditions, to include prevention strategies designed to build and foster mental wellbeing.
Research shows that in Australia one in five preschool children are developmentally vulnerable in one or more aspects of mental wellbeing before starting school, and in any given year, one in seven children between the ages of four and 17 will experience a mental health condition.
“With half of all mental health conditions in Australia emerging before the age of 14, it’s likely several children and young people in any one educator’s care will be affected by a mental health condition. Yet the research shows that in many cases these conditions are not inevitable. They can, in fact, be prevented,” explains Dr Martin, a Clinical Psychologist from Prevention United.
It’s these alarming statistics that led Dr Martin to work with fellow Prevention United colleague and Public Health Advocate, Dr Stephen Carbone, to develop the One Step Ahead Toolkit.
The new toolkit covers eight pillars that enable educators to work across the mental health continuum and includes useful information and practical tips.
“What many do not appreciate is that teachers are in a unique position to help reduce the likelihood of children and young people developing mental health conditions. It’s not just about reducing risk of conditions either. There are numerous secondary benefits associated with the promotion of mental wellbeing – increased creativity and productivity is just the start. Better study and work outcomes, better relationships and lower rates of physical health conditions are some of the other benefits attached to creating a mentally healthy environment,” Dr Martin added.
According to Dr Carbone, this approach isn’t any different to the longstanding, proactive approach schools have had to physical health promotion. “Think about the effort schools have put into reducing students’ exposure to UV radiation to prevent skin cancers, as well as promoting physical activity and healthy eating to tackle obesity, diabetes and heart disease,” he said. “It should be just as important to focus on mental health promotion as physical health promotion.”
The One Step Ahead Toolkit can be accessed by clicking here. Hard copies are also being distributed to all schools and early learning centres currently serviced by Winc free of charge.
A series of in-classroom resources including activities and posters are also available. In addition, two free webinars will be held: Educator Self-Care (24 October 2019) and Managing Anxiety in the Classroom (30 October 2019).