Mental Health and Wellbeing / Hauora in Schools
Mental wellbeing is one of the fundamental aspects of total wellbeing/ hauora. Using a whole school approach, staff at Community and Public Health work in partnership with Canterbury schools to promote the Wellbeing/Hauora of all students and staff. The foundation of positive Wellbeing/Hauora is a positive school climate where all members feel valued, actively participate, care for and respect each other. In this environment a strong sense of pride and connectedness is fostered.
The staff involved in this partnership aim to:
- promote Wellbeing/Hauora for all students and staff
- build on the existing strengths of each school
- develop social and physical environments that promote positive mental and emotional health and wellbeing
The Health Promoting Schools process is used to achieve these results. Staff can also provide information and resources to other schools in the Canterbury region on Wellbeing/Hauora.
For schools involved in the HPS process, the initial step is to assess the priority needs in relation to Wellbeing/Hauora. This information is used to develop a plan and implement strategies to make the school a better place to learn and work. The key to successful change lies in a collaborative approach, where staff and students lead the process. Addressing the school ethos, utilising the curriculum and developing strong effective community linkages enables comprehensive structured change to be made that are specific to the school. The evidence shows that with time and commitment, this approach leads to a positive shift in attitudes, knowledge and behaviour across the entire school culture.
Christchurch schools have worked on some the following areas:
- strengthening the relationships and connections between all members of the school community
- developing personal skills, such as problem solving, conflict resolution, and helping young people to build resilience in the face of life challenges
- establishing core values that form that basis of the school culture and practices
- building links with the wider community
- targeting specific problem areas such as transition between schools, behavioural problems and bullying.
Community and Public Health believes in working from a wellness perspective, based on the understanding that young people are valuable and key members of the school community. It is important to recognise there may be a need for additional mental health intervention within schools and the development of collaborative, effective relationships with external support services. These are seen as opportunities to develop strengths rather than viewed as a problem or deficit. Although a relatively small proportion of students may require additional assistance, these additional interventions are important in providing a complete overall approach to wellbeing/hauora for the school.
The HPS process establishes an environment where everyone feels physically, socially and emotionally safe; where they feel they belong and where personal skills and social support enable resilient responses to negative situations. Since students and staff spend a large part of their day at school, it is an ideal setting to develop a positive environment and to build positive social and emotional wellbeing.