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Mentally Healthy School in Profile: Sevenoaks Senior College

Posted 12 Aug 2019

Sevenoaks Senior Collage became a Mentally Healthy School a few years ago, after I attended the Positive Schools Conference and saw this initiative.

As with any school in Australia, mental health issues are an increasingly important factor when dealing with students and staff well-being. I was looking for a program that would be easy to implement within our school, as we are a Year 11 and 12 campus with a relatively small student services team. Our team really liked the Act-Belong-Commit message. It was a strategy that could fit into our existing programs.

Sevenoaks Senior Collage already had a program called Stay on Campus, where we provided fun activities for students to participate in during their free time.

“The Stay on Campus program is a successful strategy that has helped improve our student engagement and attendance by providing fun and positive activities for students to connect with their peers and College staff.” – Vice Principal, Sevenoaks Senior College

By embracing the message of Act-Belong-Commit, our team provided the following opportunities to our students and staff:

Act – Do Something

four children play throwing game in courtyard

Sometimes it only takes the small things to get students active. Even though our campus is full of students aged 15-19 years, they too liked to participate in many different kinds of activities such as:

  • Skipping
  • Four square
  • Card making
  • Cookie decorating for Valentine’s Day
  • Outdoor groups games like British Bulldog
  • Chess and Table Tennis tournaments
  • Slam Poetry
  • Giant outdoor games, such as Connect 4
  • Card games
  • Lego creating
  • 10 thousand step challenge (staff)
  • Dance classes
  • Yoga classes
  • Art classes
  • Whole College festivals such as Harmony Day and NAIDOC Week
  • National event celebrations such as R U OK? Day, Mental Health Week and National Day of Action Against Bullying & Violence. Students actively took part by getting involved with competitions, positive messaging and photo booth stalls.
  • Staff wellness days
  • You Make a Difference Awards (for staff and students, given weekly)

Belong – Do Something with Someone

three female high school students pose with cookies

All of the activities about are designed to encourage belonging to the College community. We survey our students annually, in partnership with Curtin University, and one of the questions asked is about belonging and connection to the school. Our students have stated a high level of belonging to our College with scores regularly above 4 (out of a scale of 5).

Our Student Services Team target students who are struggling with mental health issues, encouraging them to participate in activities that suit their personality.

Commit – Do Something Meaningful

white t-sirt with positive messages written on it

Like with many other schools, Sevenoaks encourages students to get involved with volunteering opportunities. Sevenoaks doesn’t have staff dedicated to community service, so we do things on a smaller scale. We get involved with events such as The Biggest Morning Tea, our student leadership team runs a successful annual fundraising event (Sevenoaks Got Talent), and we will raise funds in different ways for various charities. Soon we will explore strategies such as a recycling event where students will bring in items from home, such as clothing, to swap with other students.

Our group of students are currently trialling a new program called Seizing Opportunities at Sevenoaks (SOS). The aim of the program is to address a few of the UN sustainable goals such as no poverty in our community. They are helping students find jobs by providing resume and interview workshops with the aim of developing a mentor network with local business people.

Sevenoaks is continually developing our strategies and programs but the work that we are doing has been having a positive impact on our College community. Students are, overall, happy and we have a stable and content workforce.

Natasha Georgiou, Program Coordinator: Student Services, Sevenoaks Senior College

Did you know?

Mentally Healthy WA has partnered with both the largest school (student population wise) – Churchlands Senior High School with 2,880 students, and the smallest school – Munglinup Primary School (not including Kindergarten’s or Remote Community Schools) with 10 students, in WA.

To get your school to get involved, contact us today!