Wellbeing tools for schools and young people

Issue: Volume 95, Number 2

Posted: 9 February 2016
Reference #: 1H9cys

Most young New Zealanders have the resilience required to thrive during their adolescent years, but a significant proportion – 20 per cent – struggle to deal with behaviours, emotions, or experiences that could put their wellbeing at risk.

Research has shown that students who feel more connected to their school are more likely to experience positive health and education outcomes. The Education Review Office’s (ERO) evaluation found that an extensive and cohesive approach to wellbeing by schools with a foundation of respectful relationships would support more young people to be confident, connected, actively involved and lifelong learners.

  • Do the students in your school, who are not achieving as well as their classmates, know how they can improve, and that someone is able to help them progress quickly?
  • Do students in your school have lots of chances to learn about their own and others’ wellbeing, talk about relationships, positive attitudes, and respect for others?
  • Is wellbeing incorporated into all curriculum areas?
  • How do the policies and processes used in your school contribute to wellbeing?

(Excerpt from the Wellbeing for young people’s success at school flyer produced by ERO and the Health Promotion Agency for the NZSTA conference 2015)

Tools for school

The following programmes and tools are available for schools to support and enhance the wellbeing of their students.

Bullying Prevention & Response is a guide for schools providing practical advice on how to prevent bullying and respond effectively when it does occur. It contains links to related websites, resources, useful contacts and examples of bullying prevention strategies and programmes. Visit www.education.govt.nz/bullying(external link)

Preventing and Responding to Suicide: Resource Kit for Schools is a guideline developed by the Ministry of Education about preventing and responding to suicidal behaviours. It includes checklists, tools and prompts for creating a positive, safe school environment. It is available alongside other useful resources about handling emergencies and traumatic events in schools. Go to www.education.govt.nz/student-support(external link)

Travellers is an early intervention programme run by Skylight for year 8 and 9 students, designed to help support young people who are experiencing change, loss, the early stages of emotional distress, and successful transition to secondary school. The programme is regularly evaluated, and feedback is positive. Students have reported that the programme helped them to learn a range of strategies, such as those that contribute to resilience and the ability to navigate change and challenges, positive relationships and help-seeking. Visit the website travellers.org.nz.(external link)

Wellbeing @ School provides schools with a number of tools to support them to review their environment and create a safe and caring climate that deters bullying. There are two surveys (one for primary students and one for intermediate and secondary students). There is also a self-review process that schools can use to promote inclusive practices for all students. Visit the website www.wellbeingatschool.org.nz.(external link)

PB4L School-Wide supports schools to strengthen their whole-school commitment to wellbeing and inclusive education. Schools build a culture where positive behaviour and learning is a way of life. Visit the PB4L website http://pb4l.tki.org.nz(external link)

PB4L Restorative Practice helps schools to build and maintain positive, respectful relationships across the school community. It is a relational approach, grounded in beliefs about fairness, dignity, mana, and the potential of all people.

Online tools for students, their friends, parents and whānau

The Lowdown. Based around the theme ‘straight up answers, for when life sucks’, The Lowdown website (relaunched in 2015) now tackles anxiety as well as depression. It has strategies to help young people build a healthier state of mental wellbeing, including the development of resilience, places to get help should they need it, information for anyone worried about a friend, videos of real young people telling their stories, and a forum for young people to share unique stories and experiences and provide peer to peer support for each other. Visit the website thelowdown.co.nz.(external link) This month, secondary schools will receive posters that promote The Lowdown to students. Additional free resources are available at the ‘resources’ link on the website itself.

SPARX is a self-help e-therapy tool that looks like a game, designed to help young people who are feeling down or stressed out. In the ‘game world’ they learn and practice skills in a fantasy environment. Then they work out how to use the skills in real life. Created by a team of researchers and clinicians from The University of Auckland, SPARX is an evidence-based tool for young people. Visit the website sparx.org.nz.(external link)

Common Ground aims to ensure that parents, families, whānau and friends of young people have easy access to information that will help them support young people to manage hard times and enjoy positive mental health and wellbeing. The website, phone line and information pack give whānau access to information, tools and support so they can help young people to get the right kind of help when they need it. Visit the website commonground.org.nz
(external link)

Further resources and support for youth mental health

Mental Health Foundation

Contact the Mental Health Foundation for information about other mental wellness tools and resources to support schools, young people and their friends and families. Visit the website www.mentalhealth.org.nz. (external link)

Positive Behaviour for Learning (PB4L)

PB4L is a suite of initiatives funded and provided by the Ministry of Education and others that help foster positive behaviour, strengthen relationships and increase student wellbeing by creating caring, inclusive learning environments. It includes PB4L School-Wide, PB4L Restorative Practice, and Wellbeing @ School.

PB4L has received reprioritised funding through the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project to expand PB4L School-Wide to all secondary schools and to pilot two evidence-based programmes:
  • MY FRIENDS Youth aims to help students become confident, lifelong learners. It supports the key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum, especially those of managing self, relating to others and participating and contributing. The programme is run by teachers within each school as part of the year 9 health curriculum.
  • Check & Connect is a long-term education-focused, mentoring service for secondary students who are beginning to disengage from school. Mentors work with the students over two years to develop their skills in problem solving, self-regulation and self-motivation.

Visit the PB4L website http://pb4l.tki.org.nz.(external link)

Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project

The Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project is designed to help young people who have, or may develop, mild to moderate mental health issues. Positive Behaviour for Learning, SPARX and Common Ground are three of the 26 initiatives in the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project. You can find out more about the project on the Ministry of Health website(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 8:50 pm, 9 February 2016

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