PLC is celebrating Mental Health Week 2018 from 22 October to 26 October.

This event occurs every year as close as practically possible to International Mental Health Day. This year, our selected theme for the week is ‘Let’s take care of mental health together’ promoting a sense of belonging and connectedness amongst our community’.

The importance of raising awareness of mental health and wellbeing is clearly illustrated by recent news reports on research from Headspace that revealed high (and rising) levels of psychological distress in young Australians. A recent Mission Australia report identified that mental health was the top issue for young people in Australia. It is no wonder that that government policies across the world identified schools as having a key role to play in early intervention and support for mental health.

Paul Russell (Lead Psychologist, Co-ordinator, AISWA School Psychology Service) stresses the importance of schools in promoting, responding to and supporting mental health and those with mental illnessHe emphasises the importance of effective ongoing conversations about mental health and mental health illness in schools, “where the right information can provide the basis for decreasing stigma, increasing access to effective treatment and increasing wellbeing generally”. Paul cited WHO (2014) defining mental health and wellbeing as: “Mental health and wellbeing isn’t just about avoiding illness. Mental health is a state of wellbeing that enables people to cope with stress, work productively and fruitfully, realise their potential and contribute to their community”.

Schools have an important role in building community and providing opportunities for connectedness that build good mental health. A key protective factor for children is having safe, strong, supportive and respectful relationships  – within their family and school.

Keeping the above in mind, our Mental Health Week programme has been developed in collaboration with our student leaders. The activities focus on providing opportunities to:

  • connect with others, develop or enhance relationships with other students and staff
  • participate in things that are fun, and
  • be engaged and challenged, to try new things and to achieve success.

All of these are essential to positive mental health, and all should be found at school.

I am excited by the ideas our student leaders have put forward and are working hard to put in place.

Please join in and let’s take care of our mental health together!

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