Mental Health Month 2018

Share the Journey

Did you know that October is Mental Health Month? With one in five Australians experiencing a mental health disorder in any one year (ABS, 2009; Ivancic et al., 2014), mental health awareness is essential to addressing this major concern from a preventative approach. This month at Loreto, we take the time to stop and reflect on our wellbeing and mental health. It is a time to think about what we are doing to take care of ourselves and those around us, and ways we can enhance our wellbeing.

Whilst depression and anxiety are terms often used when discussing mental health, mental health is not just relevant to those with a diagnosed mental health disorder. The World Health Organisation (2004) defines mental health as: “a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.” Thus fostering mental health is important for all of us as it helps us to build up the skills and strategies necessary to optimise our wellbeing.

At Loreto Normanhurst, we address mental health concerns primarily from a preventative framework and  integrate social-emotional learning in various ways. Our preventative approach is demonstrated through our delivery of structured programs such as ‘Healthy Minds’ and the ‘Resourceful Adolescent Program’, guest speakers, conversation and pastoral periods dedicated to mental health topics and more. Loreto seeks to promote and foster mental health learning and skills in our students in order to facilitate the development of a healthy mindset. Through these initiatives, and through working in partnership with parents, we hope to strengthen the protective factors of each student to help them to cope with any future challenges that may arise.

The 2018 Mental Health Month theme is ‘Share the Journey’. This theme acknowledges the significance of connecting to others in maximising our wellbeing. Social isolation has a significantly negative impact on our wellbeing. Recent studies have found that loneliness contributes to poorer health outcomes, greater rates of mental illness and poorer coping strategies (Elovainio et al., 2017; Matthews et al., 2018). Thus it is important that we find ways to connect to others in order to improve our wellbeing. We can do this through small acts everyday. This can be as simple as catching up with a friend over a coffee or sending someone a message.

We believe that mental health education is pivotal to providing individuals with the necessary skills and tools to maximise their own wellbeing. We promoted Mental Health Month through a House activity on Wednesday focusing on sharing self-care tips, visual displays in the LRC, a range of lunchtime activities and promotional materials around the school.

This week, we encourage you to have a conversation with your daughter about the different ways they can look after their wellbeing. This is a chance to connect with your daughter by finding out what positive coping skills they have and who their social supports are.

We have three school counsellors who support students at Loreto with social, emotional, behavioural and educational concerns. To find out more, please contact the school counsellors at counsellors@loretonh.nsw.edu.au.

 

Emily Sharpe, Cathy Walbank, Keeva Mostyn

School Counsellors

 

 

 References:

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 4326.0, 2007. ABS: Canberra.

Elovainio, M., Hakulinen, C., Pulkki-Råback, L., Virtanen, M., Josefsson, K., Jokela, M., … & Kivimäki, M. (2017). Contribution of risk factors to excess mortality in isolated and lonely individuals: an analysis of data from the UK Biobank cohort study. The Lancet Public Health, 2(6), e260-e266.

Ivancic, L., Perrens, B., Fildes, J., Perry, Y. and Christensen, H. (2014). Youth Mental Health Report, June 2014. Mission Australia and Black Dog Institute, Sydney

Matthews, T., Danese, A., Caspi, A., Fisher, H. L., Goldman-Mellor, S., Kepa, A., … & Arseneault, L. (2018). Lonely young adults in modern Britain: findings from an epidemiological cohort study. Psychological medicine, 1-10.

World Health Organization: Promoting Mental Health. Concepts, Emerging Evidence, Practice. 2004, Geneva: World Health Organization