Mental Health Month

October marks not only the start of the final term for the year, but also Mental Health Month. Every year at Loreto Normanhurst we take this opportunity to raise awareness about mental health with a particular focus on wellbeing for both students and staff.

It is now broadly understood that mental health is not just the absence of mental disorders, but it is a state of wellbeing that allows us to cope with normal stressors and be productive in our lives. (WHO, 2018.) Our wellbeing is influenced not only by mental health, but physical, social, biological, spiritual and environmental aspects as well.

Wellbeing is not something that is achieved and then remains static – if only it were that simple! It is dynamic and has been likened to a see saw, (Dodge et al. 2012) that tips and sways dependant on the adversity faced and one’s resources available.

It is therefore so important that we tune into this, as we do for our physical health. Improving our wellbeing is something that we can learn to consciously work towards each day, through small choices, thoughts and actions.

Loreto Normanhurst recognises the importance of wellbeing for individuals and communities and this was a focus for the afternoon session of a recent Staff Day led by Jo Dywer, NSW State Manager, Wellbeing in Schools Association NSW (WISA NSW).

Throughout the  year, students also have both formal and informal opportunities to explore, understand and develop their own wellbeing here at school. Whether is it through subject curriculum, Tutor or House time; or through more formalised programs run vertically or through year groups for a more tailored focus for each year.

Share the Journey is the theme promoted by Way Ahead – Mental Health Association NSW for Mental Health Month and this theme highlights the benefits for our wellbeing, of connecting with others. There is a strong theme of research demonstrating the correlation between social connectedness and its function as a protective and curative factor in mental health. (Saeri et al. 2018) To bring this theme to life this year  students  have coupled this with the message of getting outside and moving your body. A great opportunity to combine some superpowers for wellbeing – social connectedness, physical movement and fun!

During lunchtimes this week, students  were walking the oval, with the aim of raising House points and awareness for Mental Health Month. In true Normanhurst fashion, this will be done with hula hoops, in a three legged or egg and spoon style; or following the floating streams of bubbles. These activities will also lead into a larger House time activity to be held on Wednesday 23  October. Students have also been busy creating a short film to launch the campaign, featuring tips and ideas for everyday strategies to boost wellbeing.

So as we look down at the final stretch for 2019, we encourage you to stop and reflect on the small ways you can connect with those around you and get moving. Maybe it is a walk with the neighbour now that daylight saving is here, or a session at the local oval kicking the ball with the kids. In Mental Health Month talk to your daughter and ask her what she does to enhance her wellbeing – you might discover a new hobby you can share together!

Loreto Normanhurst has four school counsellors who support students and promote social and emotional wellbeing. The counsellors can be contacted directly via counsellors@loretonh.nsw.edu.au

 

Ms Keeva Mostyn

School Counsellor


References

Dodge,R., Daly, A.P., Huyton, J., & Sanders, L.D. (2012). The challenge of defining wellbeing. International Journal of Wellbeing, 2(3), 222-235.

Saeri,A., Cruwys, T., Barlow, F.K., Stronge, S., Sibley, C.G. (2018) Social Connectedness improves public mental health: Investigating bidirectional relationships in the New Zealand attitudes and values survey. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 52(4) 365-374

World Health Organisation (2018, March 30) Mental Health: Strengthening our response. Retrieved from the link.