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An electronic journal for leaders in education
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MindMatters National Teacher Professional Development

Gail Boddy
MindMatters Website Officer, Curriculum Corporation

MindMatters is a national mental health initiative for secondary schools that has been operating since 2001. The project is implemented by the Australian Principals Associations Professional Development Council (APAPDC) through the provision of MindMatters Project Officers in all States and Territories and through the facilitatation of regular professional development across Australia. MindMatters is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing. Curriculum Corporation manages and maintains the MindMatters website.

This year a new professional development program has been added to the existing range of MindMatters services. This new, second level of professional development focuses on training core school staff in the collection and analysis of school-level data on mental health and wellbeing. APAPDC has designed and implemented the new program based on the learnings from the extensive evaluation of the MindMatters initiative.


Background to the MindMatters initiative

MindMatters uses a whole-school approach to mental health promotion, based on the principles of the World Health Organization's (WHO), Global School Health Initiative and the Australian National Health Promoting Schools framework. A range of mental health and wellbeing determinants, such as the significance of cultural context, are highlighted in MindMatters resources.

MindMatters resources develop students’ self-confidence, optimism and self-esteem, as well as the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to establish and maintain a healthy lifestyle. These resources are employed in the curriculums of States and Territories to address key elements of the National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-First Century endorsed by MCEETYA in 1999 and are highly valued by secondary school teachers. Some schools have used MindMatters to address mental health and wellbeing for the whole school community. Positive mental health and wellbeing have been strongly linked to improving schooling outcomes for young people. The MindMatters resources support the development of mental health literacy, building resilience and coping skills.

The resource suite includes:

  • A resource kit for secondary schools.
  • A national professional development program. The professional development is made available to teachers, school-focused youth service and community mental health staff through a training calendar.
  • A website: The features of the MindMatters website that support professional learning are the Classroom Ideas, Training Calendar, StaffMatters and Resources sections. Teachers are invited to submit classroom activities for the Classroom Ideas electronically. The Training Calendar has an online registration function for MindMatters professional development activities. StaffMatters is an information resource for school-based staff and is available only as an online resource. The Resources section provides Educational, Health and Community links to mental health and relevant educational websites.

Evaluation summary reports were concluded in December 2005, and showed that:

  • staff from 82% of all schools with secondary student enrolments in Australia have attended professional development
  • over 81,000 of Australian and international participants have attended professional development
  • 71% of Australian secondary schools have used MindMatters since 2001
  • 52% of Australian secondary schools surveyed use a range of MindMatters resources
  • 18% of Australian secondary schools use MindMatters as their key organiser for mental health promotion.

MindMatters professional development

The 2005 MindMatters Evaluations have informed the expansion of the professional development schedule. Professional development is provided by APAPDC at no cost to participants across Australia. APAPDC employs project officers in all States and Territories who facilitate professional development workshops in collaboration with a dynamic national team. New South Wales and Victoria each have two project officers whereas the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia each have one project officer. 

In 2007 a new professional development program commenced. It consists of two levels and a series of extension modules.


Level One Introductory Workshop

The Level One Introductory Workshop, held over two days, caters for teachers, principals and people who work closely with school communities. Participants in this workshop can expect to:

  • understand the importance and relevance of social and emotional health and wellbeing skills for young adolescents within a whole-school approach
  • develop an understanding of the relevant State and Territory and national frameworks for mental health and wellbeing
  • explore how recognition of the individuality of students and the diversity of their social and cultural backgrounds provides a range of possibilities for schools and agencies to develop resilience
  • become familiar with the range of activities and strategies found within the MindMatters resource and how these can be used in a range of classrooms as well as the whole-school curriculum
  • gain information on the potential impact of mental illness and how this can be addressed from a school perspective
  • develop a strategic plan for the next steps with their classroom, school, agency or practice.

Level Two Planning Workshop

The Level Two Planning Workshop, held over two days, is targeted at school leadership teams who wish to use the whole-school approach to address school community mental health and wellbeing.

This workshop provides a unique opportunity for school core teams to structure their planning for whole-school mental health and wellbeing with the focus of creating sustainable practices within realistic time frames.

The workshop sessions focus on leadership, student diversity and students with high support needs in mental health. Data analysis, planning, implementation and evaluation processes are explored.

The session themes are a springboard to extension modules that provide information and strategies to address the identified mental health and wellbeing needs of school communities.


Level Two Extension Modules

The Level Two Extension Modules are offered as one-day or two-day workshops that focus on specific areas such as StaffMatters and Students with high support needs. Planning is about to commence on provision of some online extension modules through the MindMatters website.


More professional development information

For more information about the professional development held in each State and Territory go to the Training Calendar on the MindMatters website.

KLA

Subject Headings

Professional development
Teacher training
Secondary education
Health
Mental Health