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Every teacher must engage in promoting mental health

This week the Black Dog Institute (BDI) announced the roll out of its Headstrong program. With the assistance of a $500,000 grant from the NIB Foundation, The BDI plan to train over 1500 teachers in the delivery of the program in an attempt to reach over 30,000 students.

Mapped to satisfy the requirements of the Stage 5 PDHPE curriculum it should provide schools with a fantastic resource to address mental health in schools. Headstrong isn’t the only resource available to schools of course. Beyond Blue have an excellent resource called SenseAbility.

 However, are resources enough? I have long advocated that schools need to approach mental health in the same proactive way in which we approach physical health. The indications are that the delivery of Headstrong will be the responsibility of the PDHPE staff and as part of the rollout BDI in partnership with the NSW Department of Education will seek to train teachers in how best to deliver the program.

 I wonder if this will be enough. We have to recognise that our teachers are not mental health professionals, but they are professionals that have to deal with mental health issues in virtually every lesson they teach.  propose that all teachers should be trained in programs such as Headstrong or SenseAbility as part of their teacher training.

 With mental health issues in our youth continually rising, every teacher must consider themselves a welfare teacher.

Author: Dan Haesler, he is a teacher, writer and speaker at the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Young People seminar at the Gold Coast. He writes for the Sydney Morning Herald and blogs at http://danhaesler.com/ and tweets at @danhaesler

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