So often we hear of the negatives associated with the increased use of technology that students are exposed to in schools. Excessive computer use, sexting, cyberbullying, predator behaviour and the like feature heavily in media reports about the use of technology in the 21st century. Not so commonly shared is the positive aspect of the on-line self help and support services available for those experiencing psychological distress.
Despite an increased awareness about the incidence of mental health issues, there are still many myths and stigma associated with mental health. With early intervention being one of the biggest predictors of recovery from psychological distress, reluctance to seek help as a result of these myths and stigma only serves to compound issues when they arise.
Fortunately there are many excellent websites that provide a wealth of information about different mental health issues affecting students and teachers. They provide information and referral pathways for issues such as anxiety (including panic attacks), depression, self harm, substance abuse and eating disorders. There are also a number of sites and online programs that can be used to learn preventative strategies and to develop wellbeing practices that increase resilience, optimism, strengths based learning and mindfulness.
Mental health problems affect as many as 1:4 adolescents and 1:3 adults in Australia at any given time. Knowing where to direct students, colleagues or where to look yourself for support at emotionally challenging times is vitally important, at times even life saving. The benefit of having such a plethora of online information available means that people are able to access the specific information they need for free and from the comfort of their own device.
This presentation will include a brief overview of a number of online sites and programs which have a mental health focus and which will be useful for students and teachers alike. Beyond Blue, Headspace, Reach Out, Black Dog Institute, Kids Matter, Mind Matters and Fifth Army will all be explored. Implementation of the VIA Character Strengths Test as well as mindfulness programs such as Get Some Headspace and Smiling Mind will also be discussed.
After almost 20 years working in primary school settings as a teacher and School Counsellor, Louiza Hebhardt (MSocSc; MEd) has been working since 2010 in private practice as an Education Consultant. Her area of special interest and expertise is in staff wellbeing.