Headspace, the National Youth Mental Health Foundation, has launched a new program that strives to give parents and teachers the tools to understand how mental health issues affect young people.
Developed in partnership with the Victorian Government, the SAFEMinds program aims to identify mental health issues in primary and secondary school students, and to intervene early to provide support for students who may be struggling.
The recent Youth Mental Health Report found that one in five Australians aged 15-19 may be experiencing serious mental health issues, and less than 40 per cent are comfortable seeking help. To help combat this, SAFEMinds takes a whole-of-community approach, designed to educate and empower families, teachers and school leaders to recognise the signs that a young person is dealing with mental health issues, and to know when and how to refer them for professional support.
“Young people spend a huge amount of their time at school, with teachers and school staff, so it makes sense to have this type of training designed specifically for school communities. The earlier issues are identified, the faster the young person can get the support they need to get things back on track,” says headspace Chief Executive Officer, Chris Tanti.
The SAFEMinds program
Through a suite of online materials for the whole school community and a range of targeted face-to-face sessions, the program aims to:
- Improve early intervention support for children and young people in schools, specifically regarding mild mood disorders (anxiety and depression) and self-harm.
- Increase engagement of parents and carers with schools to better support their child’s mental health
- Develop clear and effective referral pathways between schools and community youth and mental health services.
By the end of 2014, 3500 Victorian teachers and school staff will have completed face-to-face training, while parents can also access online and face-to-face training sessions.