by Mrs Anoushka Houseman
We have again been privileged to warmly welcome six new students (two in primary and 4 in secondary) and their families into our Santa Sophia community at the beginning of this term. It’s always exciting to see our school community grow!
Mental Health Awareness Month
October is actually Mental Health Awareness Month. As part of this, we had 11 of our staff members trained in the Youth Mental Health First Aid program. The course was run by accredited Mental Health First Aid Master Trainers, Anoushka Houseman (Wellbeing Leader and Clinical Psychologist) and Maggie Trevena (Diocesan Wellbeing Counsellor and Psychologist).
This is a 2 day (14 hour) intensive course that helps teachers understand the main mental health problems that may be experienced by young people, what the early warning signs are that a problem might be developing, how to approach young people about their concerns, how to know when it is a crisis situation that requires immediate action and how to access appropriate professional help to support our young people and keep them safe.
All our participants felt this was an extremely valuable course. One of our new staff members, Sally-Anne Webster said, “This course provided us with valuable insights and up to date knowledge and skills to support the mental health and wellbeing of our students”.
As part of Mental Health Awareness Month, we would also like to highlight some important steps that we can all take to enhance wellbeing of ourselves and our children. Here are some tips:
1. Sufficient sleep, balanced diet and daily exercise are critical! They are often undervalued but they have a very significant effect on mental health and wellbeing.
2. Try doing some form of mindfulness each day. Mindfulness exercises help to reduce the clutter and noise of daily life in your brain by focusing your mind on just one thing for a short period of time. This break for your mind helps you to cope more effectively with the daily stressors of life. Try the free Smiling Minds app to begin.
3. Make time to communicate with your loved ones – be proactive and reflect back to them if you notice their mood has changed or they seem different. Don’t be afraid to ask and let them know that you’d like to be there for them if they want to talk more about it. Try to listen without judgment and really empathise with their emotions before looking to problem solve. Once they’ve had a chance to let out their emotions, then help them to consider possible solutions to their problems.
4. Have fun together and connect – try to enjoy downtime together in a fun way. Doesn’t have to be for long periods of time – could be a card game, cooking together, watching a movie together or playing a fun game together.
5. Help is always available – whether it is contacting the school for more support or contacting external professional supports, always convey a message of hope about getting help. Here are some external supports:
- Mental Health Access Line (also to get the number for your local Child and Youth Mental Health Team): 1800 011 511 https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/mentalhealth/Pages/contact-service.aspx
- Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 https://kidshelpline.com.au/
- Lifeline: 13 11 14 https://www.lifeline.org.au/
- Lifeline Text: 0477 13 11 14
- The Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 https://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au/
- Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636 https://www.beyondblue.org.au/
- MensLine: 1300 78 99 78 https://mensline.org.au/
- eHeadspace: https://headspace.org.au/eheadspace/
- ReachOut: https://parents.au.reachout.com/common-concerns/mental-health/suicide-and-teenagers
We are nearly at the conclusion of our current secondary school Anxiety group program and we are currently into the third week of our new social skills program. Both programs have been welcomed by students and engagement is high. Our primary school social skills program is also continuing to be a great success and enjoyed by the students and staff alike.