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Mentally Healthy School in Profile: Armadale Senior High School

Posted 16 Sep 2019

Our initial reason for partnering with Mentally Healthy WA was to introduce an evidence-based whole school mental health promotion message to improve students’ social-emotional outcomes.

Prior to embedding Act-Belong-Commit, Armadale Senior High School was experiencing many presentations for mental health difficulties, self-harm and resiliency education. We wanted to take a positive and proactive approach to mental health to reducing these presentations and better equipping students with the skills they would need to be mentally healthy, therefore the Act-Belong-Commit message was identified as a positive message that could be taught throughout the school and would fit well within the school’s ethos.

How did the school become more mentally healthy?

Armadale Senior High School had briefly utilised Act-Belong-Commit resources prior to the launch of the Mentally Healthy Schools Program, however this had been in more of an ad hoc manner. Our School Psychologist was invited to the launch of the Mentally Healthy Schools launch and fed back the resources and positive prevention message to the Student Services and Board of Management teams. The message was identified as a good fit for the schools strategic goals in increasing positive engagement and developing a more proactive and preventative approach to student’s mental health. Through embedding the program in a variety of different systemic, educational and event opportunities, students across all year groups developed a shared understanding of how to keep mentally healthy.

What did you achieve throughout your partnership with Mentally Healthy WA?

Throughout the past four years since partnering with Mentally Healthy WA, an audit of the mental health literacy information delivered in our Health program was reviewed to focus more on embedding the Act-Belong-Commit message using the schools resources from Mentally Healthy WA. Regular promotion of the message through assemblies, school events and an annual mental health expo has been undertaken. Mentally Healthy WA has attended inter-agency collaborative meetings looking at improving overall mental health outcomes, new groups such as school band, geek club, games club and homework club have been established and thrived. The school has also run competitions with an Act-Belong-Commit focus and run staff training of self-care using the Act-Belong-Commit message.

“New groups such as school band, geek club, games club and homework club have been established and thrived.”

How did the school community benefit from the program?

Armadale Senior High School has seen a strong response from student surveys indicating their knowledge and level of confidence in using the principles to manage their mental health. Our Student Council has taken an active role in promoting the message and working towards committing to peer mentor programs and increasing their presence within the school community. Our Health and PE teachers have become very familiar with the message and have embedded the language and principles of the message across their department and curriculum. Our student services focuses many of their interventions on engaging the student in the Act-Belong-Commit message. We have held several extremely successful Mentally Healthy expos at the school as well as some targeted expos for senior school students, with a significant portion of the content around the Act-Belong-Commit message.

Matthew Brennan-Jones, School Psychologist, Armadale Senior High School