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Mentally Healthy School in Profile – Lynwood Senior High School

Posted 25 Jul 2019

Lynwood Senior High School is a multicultural school community in the south-eastern suburbs of Perth, with about 1360 students across Years 7 to 12. We became an Act-Belong-Commit Mentally Healthy School in 2017.

At Lynwood, we guide students from a wide variety of social and cultural backgrounds including refugee and migrant students who learn English as an additional language, and students from challenging socio-economic backgrounds. We had existing sporting, social and academic opportunities where students attention was captured, and were confident that a mental health awareness message could be introduced alongside those activities.

“We aim to engage all of the young people in our school community and prepare them for life beyond school in the wider Australian community. Learning to Act, Belong and Commit and be resilient despite life’s challenges is a transformative outworking of our school motto ‘Learners Today, Leaders Tomorrow.”

We have embedded increasing mental health awareness and understanding amongst students and staff for some time in the priorities, targets and strategies in our Student Wellbeing Operational Plan and School Business Plan.

Our School Priorities are leadership development; excellence in teaching and learning; literacy and numeracy; and student and staff wellbeing. The Act-Belong-Commit message has particular pertinence to the fourth Priority, but also upholds students and staff endeavours within the first three Priorities. Staff know that without a deliberate emphasis on ‘high care’, ‘high performance’ is less likely to be realised, and have developed and enhanced both initiatives that explicitly address mental health education, and those that provide opportunities for students to Act, Belong and Commit to maintain their wellbeing.

Whole School Community Wellbeing

Determined efforts around wellbeing have redoubled in 2019, with:

  • All staff receiving two sessions of personal wellbeing management training from Kaya Consulting;
  • Rehearsals and performances by the staff band to their colleagues being held each term after school; and
  • Staff providing a surprise, extended “flash-mob” dance routine (to gob-smacked students at the Year 12 Ball)

These have kept the fun and camaraderie going across the terms.

From 2019, practice and reinforcement of wellbeing and thought habits are being delivered to Year 7 students across TAG (homeroom) classes, an additional sequenced program of consolidation of the messages received through the existing Year 7-12 Everyday Leader positive psychology program. For the second year, all Year 10 students received education on correct peer-care in Term 1 via the Teen Mental Health First Aid Training program, arranged by our School Psychologist. In Term 1, our National Day of Action Against Bullying & Violence activities were timed to coincide with Harmony Week celebrations, aligning the two movements’ messages of safety, respect and belonging.

In 2019, the school’s Chess Club extended to open an IEC branch. Students meet with a committed staff volunteer two lunchtimes every week and are learning new strategic skills and social interactions using English language. The top players will represent Lynwood at an inter-school competition.

The very popular annual Recycle Fashion Parade, held in Sustainability Week in Term 3, is under new management. This year, students have undertaken leadership of the Committee and Working Group, meeting bi-weekly at lunchtimes since Term 1 to plan a very professional-looking catwalk event. 32 students are volunteering as organisers, models and backstage hands, this year choosing “Movie Characters” as their theme, creating outfits from only upcycled and donated items. With the assistance of just three staff members, this diverse and dedicated group of students has matured towards self-determination and sustainability, with older experienced students guiding younger enthusiasts.

Other performance action is seen after school, with rehearsals kicking off in Term 1 by the weekly Dance Troup (Mondays) and Drama Club (Tuesdays). There are about 20 students in each group, who are guided by one very effervescent Drama teacher. They are preparing for the annual Term 3 Arts Showcase evening.

Ongoing and seasonal opportunities abound for students to keep active, enhance social connections and take on new challenges. Zone carnivals engage athletically inclined students in netball, soccer, basketball and AFL. Students in the Soccer Academy Specialist Program not only learn to play soccer, but also learn to coach local juniors, umpire and event-manage. Many of these students have solid commitments to adults, other young people and children at their local clubs and volunteer within their leagues. Male and female students are challenged to grow skills and socially connect as they work towards attaining their Certificate II in Sport and Recreation.

two female students climging a wall

Act-Belong-Commit Resources

Act-Belong-Commit branded signage is displayed at annual swimming and athletics carnivals, with the spring athletics carnival being a riot of all-abilities participation, team costume competition, onesies, staff disguised under costumes, amazing athletic talent, volunteerism, music & microphone mayhem and ridiculously good fun.

Year 12 Health Studies class present their annual student-organised Health Expo, where mental health message promotion features explicitly. $150 worth of Act-Belong-Commit branded merchandise gets into the hands of students in Years 7-11 at the event. Health teachers bring the message of A-B-C to their lessons for Years 7-10.

Interest in the inter-school debating contest has grown, from fielding one team to two. Lynwood has a burgeoning Lego & Robotics club, a young writers’ group, and a daily Homework Hub after school. The annual Sustainability Expo provided space for a climbing-wall challenge, mindfulness games and colouring-in for relaxation.

Embracing Our Diversity

Our lower school and senior school Councillors (38 students) represent the diversity of backgrounds amongst their peers and have important leadership roles. Facilitated by two staff, they contribute much to the school community, from activity and event leadership to driving charitable fund-raising initiatives. Leaders motivate their peers to give generously to causes ranging from a World Vision sponsor child, to Jeans for Genes day, to individuals and families within the school community facing challenging personal circumstances. In Term 1, their responsiveness to the need of their community prompted “Breakfast at Lunch Day” to fundraise in aid of Lynwood’s Breakfast Club.

Positive mental health education is appropriately and creatively varied to suit students’ diverse needs across the school, from the hub of useful mental health information and resources provided by staff in the Senior School Student Services Office, to the social-emotional learning in weekly Wellbeing classes for newly arrived migrant students in the Intensive English Centre.

The Results

Collaborating with Act-Belong-Commit Mentally Healthy Schools program has provided us with an opportunity to use the programs strengths to leverage further promotion of mental health-building behaviours. As a large proportion of our students come from countries or communities where speaking about mental health may be uncommon or uncomfortable, staff know that teaching, modelling and enabling attitudes and behaviours for wellbeing forms essential education for our students to have successful, healthy lives going forward.

Anne Velasquez, Mental Health Project Coordinator, Lynwood Senior High School

Any primary or secondary school in Western Australia can partner with us to promote the Act-Belong-Commit message. To find out more about the program or how your school can become more mentally healthy, get in touch.