Right now, 40% of young people in Australia are living with mental health difficulties . We also know that around half of all mental health conditions start by the time a young person is in their mid-teens, with over 75% of lifetime mental health conditions presenting before the age of 25 .
It’s well known that prevention and early intervention programs are crucial to supporting young people either before or while they're experiencing a mental health difficulty – and educators and school communities play an important role in supporting students’ mental health and wellbeing, and developing their social and emotional skills.
Existing wellbeing programs help secondary schools to support positive student wellbeing and identify gaps and opportunities within their local context. Still, it can be a challenge to access practical, action-based and high-quality resources that empower educators to support student wellbeing through a whole-school approach.
This is where ReachOut Schools comes in, bridging the wellbeing education gap by providing a free, trusted and accessible online service for secondary schools that extends the impact of existing programs.
About ReachOut Schools
ReachOut Schools is part of ReachOut, Australia’s leading online mental health service supporting young people through tough times.
Featuring engaging activities for students, credible and flexible resources for teachers, and practical support for parents and carers, ReachOut Schools is designed to encourage the development of positive mental health and wellbeing across secondary schools. Plus, it’s free if you sign up as a member.
Annie Wylie, Senior Manager for Content at ReachOut says, “From our classroom lesson plans to our mental health information sheets, ReachOut Schools’ resources are evidence-based and designed to be appealing and accessible to teachers, students and wider school communities.”
“We work closely with teachers and education professionals to develop resources that are not only engaging and easy-to-understand, but also facilitate the mental health and wellbeing, and social and emotional development, of Australian high school students.”
Bringing mental health and wellbeing into the classroom
The classroom is an ideal setting to support the mental health and wellbeing of young people – helping students to increase their understanding of mental health issues, and their awareness of support services and help-seeking strategies available to them. It also gives them the chance to practice real-life skills to manage the ups and downs that life throws at them.
ReachOut Schools’ lesson plans cover an extensive range of topics – from bullying, friendships, careers and mental health, through to study stress, social media and transition to secondary. Lessons are also mapped to the Australian Curriculum, NSW PDHPE Syllabus and the Victorian Health and Education Curriculum, ensuring they can be easily woven into existing programs.
Lessons on resilience are particularly popular with teachers, a recent example being The power of reflection and gratitude. This lesson encourages students to write strength-based reflection letters about the challenges they have faced over the past few years, either to themselves or to someone they’re grateful for.
Designed to build resilience, self-efficacy and hope for the future, the lesson is suitable for years 7-12 and includes engaging warm-up and discussion activities, as well as guided letter writing templates to make sure teachers and students feel capable, informed and ready to get involved.
Secondary school teacher Alex has used a variety of ReachOut Schools’ classroom resources with students individually, in small groups and whole class settings. Speaking of the value that ReachOut Schools offers, Alex says, “It brings a professional and evidence-based voice to the complex and dynamic reality of schools and the work that directly impacts young people.”
“ReachOut resources are a fantastic suite of content that really enables educators to champion wellbeing and education initiatives in their school, ultimately leading to improved social, emotional and academic outcomes.”
Alex also points out the changes he has noticed as a result of using ReachOut. “Teachers feel more confident engaging in the topics that are a reality for our young people…ReachOut has had a significant impact in helping foster a sense of belonging and wider school culture to help capture students on their high school journey,” he says.
This echoes findings in ReachOut Schools’ most recent evaluation report, in which educators noticed an increase in their skills and confidence to support and manage student mental health and wellbeing, as well as an increase in their awareness of support services for young people.
Supporting both teacher and student wellbeing
It’s no secret that teachers regularly juggle many competing demands. Coupled with increased expectations from the sector, community, and parents and carers, to be able to address student mental health and wellbeing, they can easily put other people’s needs ahead of their own. But the reality is, student and educator wellbeing are interdependent.
ReachOut Schools’ teacher wellbeing resources encourage educators to prioritise their own mental and physical health and wellbeing, so that they can better support their students and whole-school communities. Whether it’s facilitating difficult conversations, developing a personal self-care plan, or managing professional burnout, there is a unique range of resources teachers can use to look after themselves.
Alongside this, they can access practical mental health information and student wellbeing resources to boost their knowledge and understanding of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, identify how students might be feeling, support them in seeking help, create safer learning environments, and feel more comfortable in starting conversations about mental health and wellbeing with students, colleagues, and parents and carers.
Last year, more than 11,300 students also completed a survey using Student Snapshot. This easy-to-use digital tool identifies mental health challenges faced by students as they transition to high school, helping to inform wellbeing programs and provide teachers with the insights they need to build and deepen relationships with their students.
Sign up to ReachOut Schools
Join over 184,000 people using ReachOut Schools every year to build positive mental health and wellbeing across their school communities. Register for an account to get access to free classroom activities, teaching resources and regular newsletters.
Secondary school teacher Alex shares that ReachOut Schools provides “a clear bridging of the education-wellbeing gap which is so needed and so important”. He encourages teachers to sign up and use the “reliable, trustworthy and very accessible” resources available.
1.Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2020-21). National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing. ABS.https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/health/mental-health/national-study-mental-health-and-wellbeing/latest-release.
2. Kessler, RD et al. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62: p. 593-602.Do you have an idea for a story?
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