The HeadStrong program to address mental health issues for young people will equip teachers to help their students.
The HeadStrong program to address mental health issues for young people will equip teachers to help their students. John Gass

Mental health training for schools

A STAGGERING percentage of mental health issues emerge during the adolescent years.

Up to 75% of all cases occur during the turbulent years when extra pressures of school exams hit, hormonal changes impact and young people embark on the romance roller coaster.

A unique program that equips teachers to better understand and help young people with mental health issues will be rolled out to secondary schools across the Tweed Shire thanks to a new partnership between the Black Dog Institute and nib foundation.

A $500,000 grant from nib foundation will enable the Black Dog Institute to train high school teachers in the innovative HeadStrong program over the next three years with a particular focus on rural and remote locations.

"This resource is designed to target the needs of young people, with the visual format of the materials making it accessible to students of all intellectual abilities, as well as those from a low literacy or non-English speaking background," said executive director of the Black Dog Institute, Professor Helen Christensen.

HeadStrong is a ground-breaking teaching resource that uses a series of engaging, humorous cartoon images to convey complicated subjects to students and is supported by classroom activities and teacher development notes.

Prof Christensen said the program was an important social initiative that provided a creative way of thinking, talking and teaching about mood disorders.

Topics discussed include teen challenges, mood disorder facts and statistics, at-risk personality types, coping strategies, fears of seeking help, finding the right help, the benefits of good therapy, family and school support and how to build resilience.

The rollout will begin in New South Wales secondary schools early this year, before expanding to Queensland in the second half of 2012. National implementation will be completed by 2014.

Developed in line with the New South Wales Personal Development, Health, and Physical Education Stage 5 syllabus (Year 9-10), the program will be tailored to the relevant curriculum requirements of other states and territories.



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