National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy

Last week, the Australian Government announced the launch of the National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, a framework for building positive lifelong mental health and wellbeing from childhood by means of a whole community approach.

With the release of our new Wellbeing for Learning tool this year, child and student wellbeing has been at the forefront of our thinking at Pivot for much of 2021 and we were excited to learn about the launch of this mental health and wellbeing strategy from the Australian Government.

In schools, wellbeing has long been a growing concern for educators. These concerns for student wellbeing have only increased with the stressors of the past eighteen months and the events of the global pandemic. Our conversations with schools have highlighted the urgency of student wellbeing and the need for robust tools and systems to support the mental health and wellbeing of students across all age groups.

In developing our Wellbeing for Learning tool to help schools measure, track and support the wellbeing of students, our research has shown that Australia is a global leader when it comes to supporting wellbeing. With this long history of supporting wellbeing through evidence-based approaches, we believe that the National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy is placed to be a valuable framework in supporting child health and wellbeing across Australia.

A key differentiator for us from other wellbeing frameworks, is that this Strategy presents mental health and wellbeing as a continuum (from well to unwell) allowing for the full range of a child’s emotional experiences to be captured, and not their moments of wellbeing crisis or their mental health diagnosis.

Our research shows that this continuum approach is critical in ensuring that students receive the right support in the right way and at the right time; most crucially with early interventions when initial indicators suggest that a child may be struggling.

Importantly, the launch  of our pilot program for the Wellbeing for Learning tool has revealed that many students struggle to ask for help when facing challenges with their wellbeing. Across our pilot schools, the lowest scoring items in the tool are those around students feeling that they can ask for help when they need it or talk with a trusted adult when they have a problem, which has highlighted the need for schools and systems to actively monitor student wellbeing throughout the whole school year and not just address it at a single point in time.

Our Wellbeing for Learning tool has been developed to enable schools to identify and assist students who may be struggling with their wellbeing, before they reach a crisis moment. By providing students with a weekly check-in on how they’re going, our tool allows teachers and school leaders to understand the wellbeing of students both on a weekly basis and longitudinally over the course of a whole school year. This data allows schools to identify themes and trends in student wellbeing and monitor for indicators that a student’s wellbeing has changed over time. In this way, we support early intervention for student wellbeing as prioritized in the National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy.

As the National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy becomes embedded in communities across Australia, we look forward to providing schools with rich insights into student wellbeing that empower school communities to support student wellbeing at the right time and in the right way within positive cultures of wellbeing.

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