Teaching the teachers on mental health

The City of Melville, Western Australia, joined forces with The Experience Lab, headspace™ and the Constable Care Child Safety Foundation earlier this year, to host Supporting Student Wellbeing, a teacher professional development event on mental health and wellbeing in young people.

Mental health and wellbeing is a key concern for young people across Australia, with the demographic identifying it as the most important issue in Australia today in the latest Mission Australia Youth Survey.

They also identified it in the top three of their personal concerns, alongside coping with stress and school or study problems.

The event explored these concerns and the broader state of mental health and wellbeing in young people in order to give teachers the knowledge and skills they need to support positive mental health and wellbeing in the classroom to help achieve the community’s aspiration of Healthy Lifestyles.

City of Melville Mayor, Russell Aubrey, said the event included talks from headspace, Constable Care and the City of Melville, as well as interactive elements to help teachers develop practical skills and techniques they could use to approach a student and have a conversation.

“A key highlight of this event was the Experience Labs, which gave participants the opportunity to observe some common scenarios between teachers and students played out by professional actors.

“The participants then took part in a group discussion to identify what they thought could have been done differently or handled better, using the skills and techniques they learnt throughout the day.

“The scenario was then replayed, and participants were able to intervene and suggest ways the character could adjust their behaviour. The actor responded to the feedback and suggestions, experimenting with new strategies until participants were satisfied with the outcome.

“This hands-on experiential approach reinforced what had been discussed throughout the day and gave participants the opportunity to practice skills and techniques they could use in their own classrooms.”

Participants also walked away with a set of the City’s youth resources for teachers, which have been carefully designed to entertain and engage young people and provoke discussion on a variety of challenging topics that young people had identified as being important.