Supporting positive mental health outcomes for students

Australian Greens

The Youth Aware of Mental Health program has been delivered to over 3,000 Year 9 students, promoting positive mental health outcomes for young Canberrans.

Minister for Mental Health Emma Davidson spoke to students this morning at Campbell High School, about their experiences of the program, which is running the program for a second time. Campbell High School first participated in the program in 2020 and is running it again this year. The school will also help evaluate the program.

“It’s important for everyone in our community to have access to mental health supports in places which suit their needs. The Youth Aware of Mental Health Program is such a great program to help young people become more aware of both their own mental health and that of their peers,” Minister Davidson said.

“Youth Aware of Mental Health is an evidence-based program that promotes mental health and addresses suicidal behaviour in young people. It focuses on prevention and early support by helping young people develop skills to deal with stress and crisis, to identify signs of distress in peers and to feel confident in seeking mental health support.

“This is a free program for Year 9 students in ACT schools that sign up for it. Since commencing in the ACT last year about 3,100 students have completed the program.”

In the ACT, Youth Aware of Mental Health is delivered by the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing in collaboration with local delivery partner, Mental Illness Education ACT, and supported by the Black Dog Institute.

The program is delivered in classrooms by an accredited instructor and volunteer helper, with student learning and discussion supported by resources including a take-home booklet and posters displayed in classrooms during the program.

Minister for Education and Youth Affairs, Yvette Berry said: “Student wellbeing is a priority for all ACT public schools embedded in the ACT school curriculum and is a key component of the Future of Education Strategy. The ACT Government has a range of supports in place for students, teachers and school communities.”

“There are 81 psychologists working across our public school system as part of wellbeing teams in schools, along with other allied health workers, that can be made up of a youth worker, social worker and school youth health nurse.

“Public schools across the ACT have also been implementing the Positive Behaviours for Learning program to help students along on their life journey.

“The Youth Aware of Mental Health Program is a really great addition and it’s wonderful to see so many students taking part,” Minister Berry said.

In 2020, in collaboration with the Black Dog Institute and Mental Illness Education ACT, the program was delivered by trained instructors to more than 2200 Year 9 students across 14 ACT high schools, including:

  • 1,247 public school students
  • 760 Catholic school students
  • 240 independent school students

A research evaluation of the program will measure its efficacy for ACT students and will be led by Black Dog Institute in collaboration with the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing, ACT Education Directorate and the Australian National University.

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