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Healthy, Motivated and Thriving: The Importance of Mental Health in Schools

Friday 10th March 2023

What is student mental health?

Mental health is a broad and multifaceted concept, but at its core it relates to an individual’s emotional, psychological and social wellbeing, including how they think and act, cope with stress, and connect with people around them. In terms of students specifically, mental health relates to their capacity to handle the different educational and external responsibilities they have, how they make positive relationships with other people, and how they connect with an overall sense of community.

Schools play a key role in helping students develop an understanding of their capabilities, interests and aspirations with their mental health policies and programs. The nurturing environment that school provides is fundamental for personal development, particularly in the high school years when many external responsibilities begin to gain importance in young people’s lives.

Our role and our mission is to help students attain personal, academic and professional success, while providing a supportive platform for them to learn more about themselves and their aspirations. We are committed to assisting students through all of their experiences, offering an array of support services and a positive wellbeing plan, and taking inspiration from the overall Australian Wellbeing Framework for students.

Wellbeing strategies to look after mental health

The beginning of the school year is an exciting time for most students, with new concepts and subjects beginning to be explored, but to ensure you can continue thriving as things get busier and more difficult, establishing a positive mental health strategy is important. For high school students, these tips are aimed at helping you maintain a positive outlook and personal wellbeing through the year to come.

Set goals, and reward your achievements

To help you feel motivated and able to thrive in different aspects of your life, including study, it’s important to set achievable goals. These goals could be academic, or related to your work, volunteering and other extracurricular activities. It’s important to create goals that matter to you, and use them to track your progress and how you can achieve them. It’s less about what constitutes ‘success’ for everyone, but rather, figuring out what you want to achieve. 

In addition to goal-setting, remember to reward yourself as you take steps towards those goals! Rewards could be a small tasty treat, extra time to watch a movie, or a fun day out. However you do it, it’s important to give yourself the chance to celebrate, as those feelings of joy and accomplishment will help you stay motivated to keep striving going forwards.

Sleep, eat and relax well

Teenager mental health isn’t just about taking care of your mind and emotions, but does also include looking after your body and physical health. A big part of that is making sure you have a stable sleep schedule, which should include at least 8 hours of sleep each night. Additionally, students should be eating well, including a healthy breakfast to give them energy to start the day. Healthy eating is also linked with improved concentration and reductions in stress for young people.

It’s also vital to enjoy some time each day to relax and do something you enjoy. Try and set aside some time each day to enjoy personal time, which could include reading, exercising, catching the latest episode of your favourite show, or spending time with your family.

Join a club or personal interest group

Every student has different passions and interests, and enjoying those different things can bring joy and fulfilment into life. As a positive wellbeing strategy, we recommend connecting with other like-minded students to discuss and appreciate what you love. This helps students to engage in conversation and connection, while also allowing them to spend time with the things that matter to them. This could be sports, literature, cinema or anything!

Stay active

As we mentioned, physical and mental health are intertwined and work together to help improve wellbeing and feelings of satisfaction and achievement. We encourage students to stay active by participating in sport at school and externally, and keeping up an active lifestyle. Physical activity helps relieve stress and anxiety, and decreases negative emotions, allowing you to experience a more positive outlook.

Get advice from the College counselling team

Sometimes, the pressures students face can make it difficult to promote mental health behaviours without some help, and that is entirely ok. To help in those times, and to promote an overall culture of wellbeing, our counselling team is here to support students and provide mental health education. Appointments can be made directly with them, or by chatting to a teacher who can help you organise that. Above all, they are committed to assisting students with any things they are feeling, and helping them identify strategies and an overall health and wellbeing plan to feel better.

Our wellbeing framework at SFXC

Student mental health and wellbeing are built into our positive learning partnerships and curriculum. We aim to prevent any issues occurring by establishing positive expectations, and take a restorative approach when any issues do arise, either individually or between students.

We encourage students to foster positive connections and relationships through their classrooms, as well as through our House System and Care Group programs. Students’ sense of belonging and their access to important information is prioritised. Students also engage in Wellbeing classes as part of the College curriculum where they learn personal skills and mental health initiatives to help them pursue their goals and access positive opportunities. These mental health frameworks elevate and encourage all of our students from the moment they arrive through to life after school. 

Supporting students

We understand that students are the experts at knowing what they need to thrive and feel supported, and we hope to continually engage them in conversations around the College’s wellbeing programs. In everything, we are committed to helping them feel positive about learning, engaged and valued, and able to thrive in ways that matter to them.

If you need support in any way or would appreciate having someone to chat to, please get in touch with the College counselling team or other support options. Please also find information about other community support services here