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I want you to think back to your school days. From early childhood to your senior years take a moment to think about your experience and good and bad.
Now I want you to think about your favourite teachers and the worst ones. What made you like or dislike them? (Ask a few audience members).
(Paraphrase audience responses)
Here is a card that one of my friends, an English secondary teacher, received from one of her year 12 students recently. As you can see by her card she points out all of the things she likes about her teacher and highlights their relationship. They have bonded over shared personality traits like putting up posters straight and shared interests such as Harry Potter. But she is so impressed by her teacher as a role model and as a person that she feels inspired to become a teacher herself.
Poor mental health and wellbeing is associated with poorer physical health, reduced social functioning, behavioural problems, lower academic achievement and higher substance abuse.
In terms of the age of onset, many mental illnesses have their first onset during adolescence. Approximately 50% of mental disorders occur prior to 14 years, and 75% of mental disorders occur by 24 years.
This is a common occurrence and we need to recognise that these children, young people and adults need support, we cannot ‘fix’ this by telling them to just be happy.
This means that for the majority of people who will experience a mental illness it will start to occur in their school years and the time in which they are in classrooms
Fortunately, we also know that mental health promotion and early intervention can effectively reduce mental health risk factors and increase the protective factors that can improve mental health outcomes for children. Providing children with safe and supportive environments and opportunities to learn social and emotional skills to manage their behaviour are key ways in which we can support children’s mental health.
87% with severe disorders are getting help. Schools provided services to 40% of young people with mental disorders.
CHILD – 5 elements.
CHILD has been developed based on the research and evidence relating to children’s wellbeing and mental health. CHILD, provides a guide/tool outlining how early childhood educators can support children’s social and emotional wellbeing in the children’s service setting.
These a groups of strategies that children’s services can use in their daily practices to support mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention for children.
WHY DO THIS? promotion Mental health helps by providing protective factors for children (which can help prevent the incidence or delay the onset and/or reduce the severity of MIH). It also helps promote mental health! Mental health is important for a person’s overall physical health, wellbeing, development, social functioning, capacity for learning and ability to reach their potential. Research suggests that a focus on social and emotional wellbeing for all children, from an early age, is associated with more positive behaviour, better academic achievement and improved mental health outcomes. So by incorporating MHP activities you are preventing illness and enhancing MH and quality of life. Prevention is so much better than a cure!
For each of the CHILD elements I am just providing an overview as we do not have time today to go through all the detail – BUT – see our website for more!
So for C - Creating safe and supportive environments for optimal wellbeing and development… Teachers can promote children’s mental health and wellbeing by:
Providing opportunities for children to build secure attachments; establish and maintain respectful, trusting relationships and develop a sense of belonging. Helping children to feel safe by excluding fear and having a trusted adult available And respecting all children as individuals and acknowledging their diversity, culture, temperament and preferences
Feeling safe, secure and supported is known to contribute positively to children’s wellbeing. When children feel safe they are more likely to take reasonable risks to explore their environment, particularly if they know that they have a secure base such as a parent or carer to return to when they feel unsafe. Secure and safe environments also help to develop children’s confidence and autonomy, which contributes to their overall social and emotional development.
In a safe and supportive environment teachers build positive relationships and secure attachment. They understand children’s cues and are caring and consistent in their response. This means meeting children’s needs physically, during play or rest, social interaction and for emotional comfort.
Social and emotional skills help children to learn to manage themselves, relate to others, resolve conflict and feel positive about themselves and the world around them. Helping children to develop their social and emotional skills will support children’s mental health and wellbeing. Teachers can do this by helping children to engage in experiences that offer opportunities for understanding emotions, developing empathy and responding to the feeling of others appropriately and learning effective social interaction.
Providing experiences and activities that include an element of social interaction and opportunities for talking about feelings and emotions have been found to facilitate social understanding, contributing to the development of important social and emotional skills. Children learn how to manage their feelings and behaviour by watching others, trying out things and through the feedback that they receive. Also, caring for children in a way that promotes secure attachment will further enhance the best possible social and emotional development.
Key things to consider; severity, persistence over time, impact on functioning (reduced functioning or delay in achieving developmental milestones) and if this represents a significant change in behaviour for that child). Look at the GRIP framework)
Children or families may need extra support when social or emotional difficulties arise. Research indicates that intervention early in children’s lives can be effective in both preventing and improving emotional and behavioural difficulties in children. However, before this can occur, children and their families who are experiencing difficulties need to be appropriately identified. Fortunately, children’s services and early childhood educators are well positioned to do this in their daily practices through observation and comparison of children in a range of situations and tasks.
Of course, not all behaviour shown by children is problematic, therefore it is important to recognise when behaviours may just be transient or when they may be reflecting deeper social-emotional challenges.
Best practice highlights that it is important to consider a number of points in deciding whether a child and their family may be in need further support to address behavioural difficulties. This may be the case if the child’s parent has expressed a concern regarding a particular behaviour and / or the behaviour shown by the child meets certain criteria. This might include not achieving developmental milestones, occurring in multiple settings and persisting over time. For example in an early childhood setting behaviour that might signal the need for additional support might include: Children who are not playing with others; Repetitive activities and play; and Not talking or communicating appropriately for their age and stage. Being aware of changes in children’s behaviour is important for early identification of children and families who may need further support.
When a child has been identified as having a possible emotional or behavioural problem, children’s services and early childhood educators can assist by referring these children and their families to another agency or professional for further review. Linking children and families in this way can help to get children and families the appropriate treatment and support that they need.
In order to effectively link children and families to support services, early childhood educators need to have awareness of local services and supports for children and families in their area. In addition to this effective partnerships with families will also be important in the event that a child has been identified as having additional needs, or concerns raised about their wellbeing or development. Effective partnerships will make it easier for early childhood educators to talk with families about the way forward.
Key sources of support include: Parenting programs (run by community health centres, family support agencies etc) Family support programs (that provide support in the areas of housing, finances, violence) Child and Youth mental health services (such as specialist mental health services for those children identified as having social-emotional problems).
As has already been highlighted, teachers have an important role in supporting the social and emotional wellbeing children. As we have seen this can be achieved by: Providing environments that support children’s optimal development, especially their social and emotional development, and Identifying children or families with additional support needs and helping them to access other professionals and agencies as required.
Promoting optimal social and emotional wellbeing and supporting early intervention for those with additional needs is consistent with the principles of quality early childhood care and education.
Therefore, implementing a service-based approach to mental health and wellbeing, that includes the strategies listed on the slide, is important for promoting the best possible mental health outcomes for children.
If policies and procedures based on mental health and wellbeing are to bring about change, there needs to be support and participation across all levels of the children’s service setting. This means that there is a role and responsibility for principals, leaders and individual staff members. These roles are in actively developing and implementing effective and appropriate mental health promotion-based policies and procedures.
At the individual level, teachers can act as important agents of change when they advocate for service-based policies that promote positive mental health and wellbeing outcomes for the children in their care. This could mean working toward the development and implementation of policies around partnerships with families; supporting and guiding children’s behaviour; helping children manage transitions, ideas about networking with other community organisations and reflecting the life and culture of the local community within their service and daily practice.
A whole of school approach to mental health and wellbeing is really fundamental to supporting the overall social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people.
Mental health and young people: Setting the scene
Mental health and young
people: Setting the scene
Hunter Institute of Mental Health
The Hunter Institute of Mental Health is a leading
national organisation dedicated to reducing mental
illness and suicide and improving wellbeing for all
For more than 20 years we have been delivering
successful, evidence-based mental health and
suicide prevention programs from our base in
• 50% of people during their lifetime
• Age of onset = 50% by 14 years, 75% by 24
Mental illness in children and
• Almost 1 in 7 (13.9%) of 4-17 year olds past 12 months
• Males more likely than females
• Most common types of illness:
– ADHD (7.4%);
– Anxiety disorders (6.9%);
– Major depressive disorder (2.8%);
– Conduct disorder (2.1%).
*Young Minds Matter Survey 2015
Mental illness in young people
• Depression and anxiety most common:
– 1 in 13 aged 11-17 years meet diagnostic criteria
for major depressive disorders;
– 1 in 5 girls aged 16-17 years meet criteria;
– 1 in 5 aged 11-17 years had high or very high
levels of psychological distress.
• In young people aged 12-17:
– 1 in 10 had ever self-harmed.
• In young women aged 16-17:
– 16.8% had self-harmed in past year.
• Self-harm more common in:
– Girls vs boys;
– Older adolescents vs. young adolescents.
• In young people aged 12-17 years:
– 1 in 13 had seriously considered suicide;
– 1 in 40 had attempted suicide.
• In young women aged 16-17 years:
– 1 in 7 seriously considered suicide;
– 1 in 20 attempted suicide.
• Suicidal behaviours more common in:
– Girls vs. boys;
– Older adolescents vs. young adolescents.
Key issues for young people
• Issues of most concern:
– Coping with stress;
– School or study problems;
– Body image;
– Family conflict.
*Mission Australia Youth Survey 2013
• 1 in 4 young people are unhappy with their lives
Creating safe and supportive environments that
promote wellbeing and personal development as well
By providing opportunities to:
• Build secure attachments
• Establish and maintain respectful, trusting relationships
• Develop a sense of belonging.
C H I L D
Helping children and young people develop effective
social and emotional skills and manage their own
Provide experiences and activities that offer opportunities to:
• Understand emotions of self and others
• Develop empathy and respond to others feelings appropriately
• Learn effective social interaction with peers and pro-social skills.
C H I L D
Identifying children, young people and families who may
be in need of additional support.
Teachers can pick up early signs of difficulties, such as:
• Decline in academic performance
• Avoiding new situations or missing lots of school
• Challenging behaviour occurring in multiple settings and persisting
C H I L D
Link children, young people and families with support and
information services for mental health and wellbeing.
Teachers can do this by having:
• Knowledge of local support services
• Effective partnerships with parents, children and other agencies in the
• Referring children and families to other agencies for further assessment,
treatment and support when required.
C H I L D
Develop broader organisational, school and community
strategies that support wellbeing.
Teachers can also contribute to broader wellbeing strategies through:
• Policies and procedures for wellbeing
• A service goal or philosophy
• Documents, procedures and daily practices
• Staff orientation and training to key policies.
C H I L D