Today marks the first day of mental health month. Each October we raise awareness and promote activities and ideas that have a positive impact on the daily lives of ourselves and others.
This year’s theme is ‘Share the Journey’, focusing on our connections with others. Strong connections with those around us not only improves their wellbeing but ours as well.
At Youth Off The Streets’ independent high schools, our staff provide a range of opportunities for students to connect and share their experiences to develop these connections and improve their wellbeing. Such opportunities include art therapy that promotes self-expression, and circle time at the beginning and end of each day to openly discuss any issues or concerns facing our students and to generally check in on their mental state.
Many young people at our independent schools have experienced a number of traumatic experiences which have drastically impacted their mental health. Our trauma informed care practices help students to feel safe and supported whilst engaged in education.
Joanna Nicholson School Manager at our Redfern school, Key College says attention and consideration must be placed on our student’s behaviour to uncover what they might be trying to express.
“People that have been through trauma in their lives may experience ‘toxic stress’ making them believe they are under threat in everyday situations, even if they are not. This can greatly change the behaviour of students in the classroom and is why it is crucial to examine our student’s behaviour. We must then ask ourselves: why are they behaving in this way?”
It is not uncommon for young people in alternative education that have been disengaged in mainstream education to have experienced some form of trauma in their lives. However, with the right support they can achieve incredible results.
Young people at school need to feel safe and supported to reach their full potential. This is why we prioritise mental health. Maintaining a positive mindset is a vital part in engaging students in education, but more importantly it is a vital part of overall wellbeing.
At Youth Off The Streets we continue to advocate for the wellbeing of young people and always look for ways to provide support and care to break the cycle of disadvantage. This mental health month help us raise awareness for the wellbeing of Australia’s future.