Director of Pastoral Care
Cultivating a culture of wellbeing through relationships
“People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
In our ever changing world, young people are encountering a range of stressors as they navigate a changing society – with shifting family relationships, a world of 24/7 social media and increasing demands in the realm of academic life. Such influences are known to be contributing factors to wellbeing issues in adolescents. The Mission Australia Survey 2019, highlighted the need to look for ways to respond to the top personal concerns for young people which were reported as: coping with stress 43%, school or study problems 34%, and mental health 31%. It is important that parents and educators work together to understand the complexities young people are facing and to invest in strategies that will build their capacity. Some focus areas for consideration include relationships, the online world and a balanced life.
It is affirming to know that young people really do value relationships, with family relationships 83.7% and friendships 81.8% as their most highly valued items in the Mission Australia Survey. According to another study undertaken by Southern Cross University across Australian schools, students perceive that relationships with family, friends and school are central to their wellbeing. Family relationships were recognised as the most important – where students identified that being loved, known, encouraged, supported and listened to were important in enhancing their wellbeing. On the other hand, they felt that factors such as sibling comparisons, unrealistic expectations or being overprotective hindered their wellbeing. Relationships with school are vitally important and such relationships have been linked with greater engagement in learning and improved intellectual, behavioural and emotional development. As a school we place much emphasis on developing such relationships through our pastoral structures and through the FACE curriculum where students are provided opportunities to develop connections with their peers and feel well known by their tutor, advisor and teachers.
In these relationships, young people value the support and care provided by their parents and their teachers. They especially value the trust we have in them, encouraging them to stretch themselves out of their comfort zone, make mistakes, learn from these and try again. As Dr Tom Nehmy advised parents at last Monday night’s Parent Workshop, a key indicator of resilience is the willingness to embrace challenges. He advised that the use of pre-emptive exposure can work to build such resilience when children are guided to take small steps out of their comfort zone. Dr Nehmy also warned of the need to be mindful of not over-parenting, which can stifle confidence and growth.
The online world has become an integral part of our world and socialising online is very popular with young people, yet it does not allow for the authentic building of friendships and this can mean that young people are missing out on critical social skills. This is a growing area of concern, due to the increased pressure it has placed on young people, including the fear of missing out and the need to be available 24/7, as well as the emotions associated with ‘getting likes’. The impacts of this are reflected in sleep and wellbeing patterns and are possibly having an effect on rising stress and anxiety levels. This is an area where monitoring and boundaries should be clearly imposed. This week’s SchoolTV topic has some excellent information for parents from a range of experts as well as a quiz to check just how much you know about social media and digital reputation.
A balanced Life
Research suggests that the developing brain of a teenager needs between nine and 10 hours of sleep every night. Yet most adolescents only get about six to eight hours. Regularly not getting enough sleep leads to chronic sleep deprivation, which can lead to reduced alertness and concentration and feelings of sadness and irritability. Sleep also plays an important role in memory, both before and after learning, which means it is an important factor in improving academic performance. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is important at any age, but it is especially important for teenagers. Body image can become a concern when the physical changes to body shape are not what they were expecting, or when they feel the pressure from others that they must look a certain way.
As we continue to navigate this ever changing world, may our young people continue to impress us with their ability to be embracers of change and may they grow in resilience and confidence to also be potential agents of positive change.
Mrs Lynn Long
Director of Pastoral Care