Gladstone primary schools now eligible for free mental health program

Gladstone primary schools now eligible for free mental health program

Applications now open in Queensland for a free whole of school mental health and wellbeing program.

Driven by a $2.5 million funding boost from the Australian Government, leading not-for-profit in the mental health space, Smiling Mind, is bringing its award-winning, evidence-based schools program to more than 600 regional and rural primary schools across the country from early 2021.

Queensland government, independent and Catholic primary schools are invited to be among the first in the country to apply for the Smiling Mind Regional and Rural Schools Program. Selected schools will receive access to Smiling Mind’s award-winning training and resources free of charge, providing teachers evidence-based professional development workshops and tools to support the development of sustainable mental health habits. 

The program is designed to support students to develop a range of skills, with possible benefits including more engaged and focused students, calmer classrooms, greater emotional regulation, and increased resilience.

Delivered entirely online over three terms, schools will receive in-depth training for all staff, designed to support schools to implement a whole of school approach to mindfulness-based social and emotional learning. Teachers will also receive digital tools and resources, and practical guidance on how to implement this in the classroom. 

To encourage longevity and maximum impact, participating schools will nominate one or two ‘Mindful Champions’ – teachers who receive intensive training on how to support a whole of school approach to mindfulness-based social and emotional learning, so they can ‘champion’ the introduction of the program at their school. These Mindful Champions are equipped with the strategies and techniques required to embed mindfulness in the school’s culture to foster positive mental health habits.

As part of the program, teachers will be given access to the newly developed Smiling Mind Learning Hub.  The online hub will provide teachers in remote areas the opportunity to connect and share experiences with educators across the country who are also participating in the program.

Participating schools will also have access to wellbeing surveys and measurement tools, allowing them to track the impact of the program on students and teachers alike. 

The Hon Greg Hunt MP at the Commonwealth Department of Health commented on the importance of the program.

“Supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians is critically important and remains one of the Australian Government’s highest priorities.”

“The Government is continuing its firm commitment to mental health by providing $2.5 million over four years for the Smiling Mind School Program. This will provide practical training, resources and support in up to 600 schools in regional and remote areas, helping young people and teachers build and maintain their mental health and wellbeing during this difficult and uncertain time.”

Smiling Mind CEO and Clinical Psychologist, Dr Addie Wootten, reflected on the potential of the program, and the urgent need for its delivery.