KidsMatter and MindMatters are mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention frameworks specifically developed for Australian primary and secondary schools. They were introduced to help schools strengthen their capacity to promote and support student mental health and wellbeing. The Australian Government Department of Health commissioned Beyondblue in 2014 to redevelop KidsMatter and MindMatters so that the framework continues to be a valuable, cutting-edge resource for schools.
The MindMatters framework is designed to address four components important to student mental health and wellbeing:
At Oxley College we are looking at introducing a programme to support all students under our care. Each component of the new MindMatters framework has been informed by strong evidence in the area of student mental health and wellbeing.
Component 1 introduces the MindMatters framework, explores the school’s capacity to support student mental health, and highlights the importance of creating an environment that is inclusive and develops a sense of belonging. One of the most important things a school can do to promote and protect student mental health and wellbeing is to develop a positive school culture — one where an individual feels safe, cared for and able to meaningfully participate in school life. This reflects the evidence that students connected to their school community tend to do better academically and have fewer substance use and mental health issues. Establishing strong working relationships with families to ensure better outcomes for the students is another priority discussed in this component. School parent partnerships are critical in supporting student achievement (higher grades, lower dropout rate) and student behaviour and attendance. The programme offers a range of benefits to students and the broader school community. These benefits include improved student wellbeing and academic performance, as well as reduced emotional distress and behavioural problems.
Component 2 provides an overview of some of these programmes, what they offer and how to determine the best programme for students and their school. Component 2 goes on to explore the benefits of implementing student-led strategies and how this can be done in practice within a school community. Youth empowerment strategies have been identified as making important contributions to a range of developmental or mental health ‘assets’ such as self-efficacy (self belief), sense of purpose and control as well as contributing to the development of active and competent citizens.
Providing parents/families with information and support with respect to youth development, mental health and wellbeing issues is essential. Parents/families are a key source of support and influence to young people so they need access to information and resources to be able to offer appropriate support. The importance of parents/family involvement is therefore the focus of Component 3. For parents/families to be involved, school staff need the skills and knowledge to communicate effectively with parents. Strengthening staff communication and interpersonal skills has been identified as an important goal by education leaders and is viewed as an important foundation in the building of a positive school community.Component 3 explores the roles of parents/ families in supporting a student and negotiating difficult situations and conversations with parents/families. Importantly, it provides school staff with strategies to initiate a conversation about a young person’s mental health.
Research with school staff and students indicates there is strong demand for information on youth mental health and wellbeing, in particular information on how to recognise the warning signs and practical tips for helping someone you are worried about. Component 4 focuses on the need for students at risk of or experiencing mental health difficulties to receive timely, practical and useful support. It explores the many barriers that might make getting help difficult for young people, and highlights the importance of school staff having the knowledge and skills to recognise and respond effectively to mental health warning signs. Effective prevention and treatment programmes exist for youth mental health problems, particularly anxiety and depression. Through the development of online technologies these programmes and supports are now becoming increasingly accessible via the web and mobile platforms. Component 4 provides information about these emerging evidence-based programmes, what they offer and how they can be accessed.
We have a very supportive and strong tutor system and the implementation of this programme during Tutor groups will help to strengthen pastoral support and provide positive outcomes for all our students.
KidsMatter is a mental health and wellbeing framework for primary schools and is proven to make a positive difference to the lives of Australian children. KidsMatter informs the design and delivery of the many aspects that comprise our approach to Pastoral Care in K-6.
Our K-6 Buddy Programme has provided a great sense of belonging for all. Our youngest students adore and admire their older buddies who in turn take great responsibility for the wellbeing of the younger buddies and friends. Throughout the year there are a number of ongoing activities and some special events that nurture and celebrate the buddy relationships.
Buddy groupings exist between the following year levels as they journey through K-6;
Students have the chance to develop deep and lasting connections with each other as they progress through the school with the same buddy. Each year to accommodate new students and differing student numbers in each year level, new buddies may be needed or in some cases a change is desired and is negotiated between child and teacher.