Hauora in Schools: Promoting health and wellbeing
Mental wellbeing is one of the fundamental aspects of total wellbeing/ hauora. The foundation of wellbeing/ hauora is a positive school climate where all feel valued, actively participate, and respect and care for each other. In this environment a strong sense of pride and connectedness is fostered.
Much has been developed to support this important aspect of learning, since the Prime Minister’s Youth Mental Health Project launched in April 2012. The Education Review Office clearly states that “student wellbeing is not only an ethical and moral obligation for teachers, leaders and trustees but also a legal responsibility.” (Wellbeing for Success: a resource for schools)
Staff at Community and Public Health use a whole school approach to work in partnership with local schools. Community and Public Health staff involved in such partnerships aim to:
- promote wellbeing/ hauora for all students and staff;
- build on the existing strengths of each school;
- assist in the development of social and physical environments that promotes positive mental, emotional and social health and wellbeing; and
- support schools’ Health and Physical Education curriculum planned outcomes.
The Health Promoting Schools (HPS) process is used to achieve these results. Staff can also provide information and resources to other schools in Canterbury, South Canterbury and the West Coast on wellbeing/ hauora.
“There is no health without mental health.” – World Health Organisation.
Understanding Hauora in our schools
The initial step in the HPS process is to assess the priority needs of the school relating 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 changes to be made that are specific to the school. The evidence shows that this approach – along with time and commitment – leads to a positive shift in attitudes, knowledge and behaviour across the entire school culture.
Here are examples of how some schools addressed hauora issues:
- Strengthened the relationships and connections between all members of the school community.
- Developed personal skills (such as problem solving, conflict resolution), and helped young people to build resilience in the face of life challenges.
- Established core values that form the basis of the school’s culture and practices.
- Built links with the wider community.
- Targetted specific problem areas such as transition between schools, behavioural problems and bullying.
- Developed student voice, student agency and student leadership through annually run student health leadership forums.
- Developed strategic wellbeing goals as part of the school charter.
- Developed student-teacher managed HPS blogs focussing on wellbeing projects in their school.
Useful links to understand hauora in schools
Pastoral care in our schools
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. These additional interventions are important in providing a complete overall approach to wellbeing/ hauora for the school, even if only a relatively small proportion of students may need such assistance.
The HPS process assists in establishing an environment where everyone feels physically, socially, emotionally and culturally safe; where they feel they belong and where personal skills and social support enable resilient responses to negative situations.
Schools are an ideal setting to develop a positive environment and build positive social and emotional wellbeing, since students and staff spend a large part of their day there. HPS can assist in the development of strategic planning based around the Wellbeing@School model.
Links to wellbeing models for schools
For more information, contact:
Ph: +64 3 378 6833
Fax: +64 3 379 6125
Contact Richard to give feedback on or ideas for this webpage.
Dimensions of Hauora
- Taha tinana – Physical wellbeing
- Taha hinengaro – Mental and emotional wellbeing
- Taha whānau – Social wellbeing
- Taha wairua – Spiritual wellbeing
Resources on Social and Emotional Learning in Schools
Here are some research and activities to support your school’s Health and Wellbeing strategic goals as well as your personal and professional development.
Child Poverty and Mental Health
The following are a useful document on child poverty, and Canterbury services available to assist parents and families dealing with the effects of poverty.