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Teachers can play a huge role in assisting young people with Mental Health Issues

Posted on 18 October 2018
Teachers can play a huge role in assisting young people with Mental Health Issues
Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard who is the chair of Beyond Blue, a support service for people with depression and anxiety, wrote an opinion piece in The Australian this week highlighting the critical role of teachers in supporting the mental health of students. Below is an extract:

Today's young people have a higher level of understanding of good mental health and wellbeing than any other generation, but that does not mean everything's fine.

The up-and-coming generation is experiencing different pressures than earlier generations, including the impacts, both good and bad, of social media and spending a lot of life online.

Four years ago, Young Minds Matter the latest and largest national study of its kind found that every year about one in seven Australians between four and 17 experiences a mental health condition.

We already know that half of all adult mental health conditions emerge by the age of 14.

Tragically, suicide accounted for more than one-third of deaths among people aged 15-24 in Australia last year. Now new research from the mental health organisation Headspace shows psychological distress in 12 to 25-year-olds increased threefold in a decade.

But by supporting mental health from an early age, there's potential to both enhance young people's learning opportunities and their long-term prospects. This in turn can be a factor in improving education outcomes.

Next month, after engagement with thousands of stakeholders from educators, parents and young people to service providers, peak bodies and unions, researchers and governments, Beyond Blue in partnership with Early Childhood Australia and Headspace will launch an initiative with the aim of equipping children from the get-go with the social and emotional skills necessary to take them successfully through school and beyond.

Online professional development, accompanied by the tips, tools and evidence-based resources, will be provided in tandem with the support of a highly experienced team of more than 70 staff nationally. This isn't about giving educators yet another thing to do. It's about linking them to proven programs to address the challenges they face daily.

This Beyond Blue education initiative will be part of a child's learning journey from the moment they enter an early learning service until the end of Year 12. And it will be accessible to everybody. Parents, carers, whole communities will be able to access the site and, along the way, improve their own mental health literacy.

Improved mental health is also important to achieving goals such as increased school attendance and retention, higher academic outcomes, better engagement in the classroom and the life of the school, as well as improved youth employment rates. This is about backing early learning service staff and teachers to better support our young people.

Our shared goal should be to produce the most mentally healthy generation of young Australians ever.

Tags: wellbeing

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