Wellbeing and Mental Health at St Norbert College
At St Norbert College, Pastoral Care is based upon the Christian belief in the fundamental dignity and worth of each person. Care of the student is at the centre of education at our College and it represents a climate of people caring for and respecting one another and challenging one another to be the very best that one can be. Emphasis is placed upon building positive and respectful relationships between all members of the community, meeting the challenges of life by being compassionate and resilient and helping students to feel that they belong to the cohesive St Norbert College community.
Without wellbeing, learning cannot take place effectively. We aim to develop the whole person and pastoral care is embedded into every area of College life. The College provides a safe learning environment in which students and staff can flourish and develop socially, spiritually, emotionally, academically and physically. High standards of behaviour and personal responsibility are promoted at all times as is respect for self, others, family, College community and campus, and the wider community.
This year the College has continued to develop positive wellbeing programs into Health Education for our middle school students to help provide them with wellbeing strategies. In Year 7 all students will complete the 'Positive Detective' which is a wellbeing and positive education program for schools. It encourages students to find the good in their world and share it with others to increase their own happiness and that of others. The Year 8s will be engaged in the 'BiteBack' program which is an online space for young Australians, where they can learn new ways to increase their levels of wellbeing, reduce stress levels, improve their mental fitness and amplify the good stuff in their lives. Our Year 9 students will undertake ‘Flourishing at School’, which is a software solution for schools seeking to excel at whole school wellbeing. Both staff and students will take part in online surveys that assesses the degree to which they have developed the 'pillars' of good mental health. The software platform gives each child access to easy to understand survey results, resources to improve their wellbeing literacy, activities to optimise quality of life, and a goal setting feature to assist students in translating improved self-awareness to action.
At St Norbert College we continue to support our students, as research suggests that schools today are dealing with a host of complex mental health and social issues such as anxiety, depression, self-harm, drug and alcohol use, bullying and violence. This is consistent with the findings from epidemiological studies, which indicate cause for concern regarding the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians.
In a 2013 Mission Australia Youth Survey (Perrens et al., 2013) involving over 14,000 young people aged 15–19 years, approximately one-fifth were found to be experiencing high levels of psychological distress. When survey participants were also asked to identify the issues they were most concerned about, the following four were identified in order:
• Coping with stress
• School or study problems
• Body image
Students with good mental health and wellbeing are better equipped to cope with the everyday demands of school life such as attending class, forming and maintaining supportive peer relationships, completing assignments and achieving academic success. Many programs have demonstrated that enhancing young people’s social and emotional competencies also helps them to learn and achieve academically. On the other hand, students who experience ongoing mental health difficulties tend to have poorer records of school attendance, behaviour and academic performance and are more likely to drop out of school early. For this reason, student mental health can be considered to be part of a school’s core business, and directly related to its success. It is interesting to note that the relationship between mental health and academic achievement can also run the other way - taking part in school activities and achieving educational success can be a protective factor for young people by increasing their sense of competence.
At St Norbert College we are committed to providing education, support and guidance in the area of mental health and wellbeing for our students. All staff are currently completing Professional Development in specific areas of need. In recent years, a number of staff have completed the Youth Mental Health First Aid and Gatekeepers Suicide Prevention course. Our Pastoral Care Team, which includes the Principal, Deputies, College Psychologist and Counsellor, the Heads of House and Dean of Studies, work closely with the Homeroom teachers to ensure all students know they have someone to talk with if required.
During summer holidays a group of SRC students and Year 12 Leaders voluntarily undertook a Mental Health and Wellbeing course. These students will have the knowledge and awareness to support their peers and offer advice and referral for mental health concerns. They have become a ‘reference group’ that will work and run activities within the SRC to support positive wellbeing activities to make school more ‘fun’ throughout the year.
Each College newsletter will contain a relevant or topical article that we hope will help inform parents about the area of mental health and wellbeing of young people. We hope this information is of benefit, please feel free to contact us if you require further information or if we can help support you in any way.
The Pastoral Care Team