The Press

Mental health help for schools


It’s hoped a new mental health teaching resource will help to fill a gap, as schools struggle to deal with the increasing mental health needs of students.

However, one of the authors, Katie Fitzpatric­k, said teachers still needed more support in dealing with the mental health of students, and more time set aside in the timetable to teach health in order to make a difference.

Fitzpatric­k and four others are coauthorin­g the resource, expected to be available to schools mid-next year.

The book would replace one that was written in the 1990s called Taking Action: Life Skills in Health Education, Fitzpatric­k said. Taking Action‘s author, Gillian Tasker, was also working on the new resource.

The new book would expand on what was written in the 90s to include work on mindfulnes­s and resilience that had been done in the years between.

‘‘We’re very keen to make sure the book is culturally relevant and located strongly in Maori knowledge as well.’’

Secondary Principals Associatio­n New Zealand president Michael Williams said schools were always looking for new resources to add to any curriculum areas, but said schools needed more than books.

‘‘It’s all very well having whole pile of books, but we haven’t got people to use them and without training them to use them, they’re not much use.’’

Recent research showed schools that had found those that had ‘wraparound’ support services which provided a multiagenc­y approach were much better at supporting students’ mental health, Williams said.

That included funding from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry for Social Developmen­t.

Schools had guidance counsellor­s, but there were not explicitly funded, and the money that did come for guidance support only covered a fraction of what his school, Pakuranga College, put into it.

He wanted more done to provide proper pastoral care in schools.

Fitzpatric­k said there was not enough support for teachers dealing with students who came to them with problems.

‘‘There is not enough counsellin­g support, it’s an area we really need. This resource is just one thing, we really need some teacher training support.’’

Teachers were equipped to teach delicate subjects, but for some issues being raised they needed more support.

‘‘Times have changed a lot in the past 10 to 15 years with online spaces, and digital stuff, it’s timely that teachers get more support in this area.’’

She hoped the new book, expected to be ready mid-next year, would be extensive to enough to fill a gap.

‘‘There’s always going to be room for more.’’

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