Article from School News
School children across six hundred of Australia’s rural and regional primary schools will have access to expanded mental health supports through $2.5 million funding for the Smiling Mind evidence-based mindfulness social and emotional learning program, according to a new media release from the federal government.
Half of all mental health issues emerge before the age of 14 years and poor mental health affects learning. Prevention and early intervention – both early in life and in the development of a condition – hope to minimise the impact of mental illness across a lifetime.
The government said the Smiling Mind Regional and Rural Schools Program “will benefit thousands of children a year”. The online program runs over three school terms each year, involving both school staff training in mindfulness and resources to sustain the program and its benefits for the school.
It will also include assistance for schools to gauge the positive impact the program is having on each school community, as well as ongoing support from psychologists and mindfulness experts.
Australian school students and their families have faced many challenges over the past year as the nation responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Smiling Minds will ensure more children can access mental health supports, which will help keep their education on track.
Smiling Mind focuses on building healthy minds, engaged classrooms, and equipping a generation of children with skills they need to thrive in life.
The program will be available in government, Catholic and independent primary schools in rural or regional communities experiencing disadvantage.
Rural and regional schools in South Australia and Queensland joined the program in November 2020, which is now open across the entire country.