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Mentally Healthy School in Profile: Secret Harbour Primary School

Posted 6 May 2019

Prior to 2014, Secret Harbour Primary School had a number of services and processes to support students.

These included Friendly Schools and Families, Aussie of the Month, Star Awards, our Occupational Therapy program and the school psychologist. However they operated quite separately, allowing gaps to develop in delivery and different interpretations of use. We needed an overarching focus to ensure continuity and to more successfully target student mental health and wellbeing.

Upon review of our data and discussions about the growing number of the school community experiencing mental health difficulties, the professional team decided to participate in the Act-Belong-Commit Mentally Healthy Schools Project.

Our first priorities included;

  • to extend whole-staff knowledge of support networks and strategies to assist children experiencing mental health difficulties,
  • to actively promote opportunities for parents to connect with each other,
  • to develop support networks and provide our families with explicit information on our school’s approach to social and emotional learning and the Act-Belong-Commit message.

We did this through many activities and events, including participation in Act-Belong-Commit school competitions, mental health focused assemblies, the annual International Family Breakfast, parent workshops and the development of new groups for students to belong to.

Our Wellbeing team also created our Wellbeing Whisper, a school publication produced each term aimed at providing tips on keeping mentally, physically and emotionally healthy. We also created Mental Health files which were placed in each learning areas and staff rooms. They were filled with resources, tips and information on support networks and agencies that teachers can access as needed.

Additionally, myself and external agencies ran Professional Development sessions and workshops on Mental Health and Wellbeing for whole school staff over a number of Staff Development Days. These sessions improved and developed our shared understanding of the Act, Belong, Commit initiative, built confidence and knowledge and improved focus for staff. Our achievements resulted in Secret Harbour Primary winning the Act, Belong, Commit Primary category award in 2017.

Benefits to the parents and wider community included information session for parents, guardians and other interested members of our school, to inform and promote the Act-Belong-Commit message. We have benefited from a wide range of new initiatives suited for a range of interests such as sporting mindful and musical events.

– Merinda Smith, Secret Harbour Primary 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.