A report last year found the number of young people reporting concerns around mental health has risen by 10% in one year.
Four in ten (43%) young people identified mental health as the top issue facing Australia today – up from 33% in 2017 and doubling since 2016. Mental health also entered the top three issues of personal concern in the annual survey which was completed by more than 28,000 young Australians.
While addressing this issue should be a top priority for every school, tackling anxiety and depression is not an easy task for educators and leaders – especially when the source of that depression is at home rather than behind the school gates.
But that doesn’t mean schools are powerless in the face of this issue.
On March 12, The Educator’s Mental Health in Schools Masterclass will be held in Sydney, hosting a range of speakers, including associate professor Philip Riley, who heads up the annual Australian Principal Occupational Health, Safety and Well-being Surveys.
Another speaker is Shane Kamsner – Head of Student Development at Carey Baptist Grammar School in Victoria – whose school won the 2018 award for Best Student Wellbeing Program in August at the inaugural Australian Education Awards.
At the Masterclass, Kamsner will focus on strategies, structures and programs that support student wellbeing and adolescent mental health – in particular, the prevention of depression and anxiety.
He will also discuss practices that support the development of an environment for an inclusive school culture and outline ways to engage parents in a partnership with schools in understanding and participating in improving the mental health outcomes for their children.
“Schools are complex organisations whose moral purpose is to provide a safe environment and opportunities for a holistic education that supports students’ learning and wellbeing,” Kamsner told The Educator.
“This includes programs and structures that enhance and respond to student mental health.”
Kamsner said educators and school leaders face significant challenges as governments and communities expect their schools to be “far more than places of teaching and learning”.
“Schools today look more like universal service providers with student and staff wellbeing a significant priority,” he said.
Kamsner said the Mental Health in Schools Masterclasses provides a “critical opportunity” for educators to share and exchange ideas.
“Educators will network and learn how schools and educators are adapting to a rapidly changing environment where consistent trend of mental health decline in more and more of our young people is affecting their learning and life chances,” Kamsner said.
“Mental health and academic performance should not be seen as separate domains. They interact to generate the wellbeing of the whole person”.
The Mental Health for Schools Masterclass will take place at L’Aqua, Cockle Bay Wharf Sydney on Tuesday 12 March 2019.