What is mental health?

As a school psychologist, I am trained and practiced in talking about mental health, and sometimes I forget that not everyone is as aware, passionate or as comfortable with the concept as I am.

When many people hear about mental health they automatically think about mental Illness – the things that can go wrong with our emotions, functioning and relationships. However, the World Health Organisation places mental health as a component of holistic health, and defines it as “a state of well-being 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.” Basically, it’s when you’re in the right mental place to be able to manage with life’s difficulties, and to thrive.

One of the things I love about Cedars is our commitment to mental health PROMOTION. Just like we teach kids about things that protect their physical health (exercise, diet, hygiene, etc) Cedars also works on developing the skills that protect and build students’ mental health. There are many formal ways we aim to foster the spiritual, social and emotional development of our students, including the many years of effort put into working through the MindMatters and KidsMatter frameworks.

Three of the new ways we are aiming to support students and families this year are:

  • From the Counsellor Page on C-Hub – This page has links to organisations that can provide information and support about almost everything to do with child, adolescent and family well-being. From time to time I will also share links to relevant research and strategies for helping you and your children build up good mental health.
  • Pop In Psychologist at the Pop Up Café – Every Tuesday morning, our  Chaplain (who also plays a significant role in promoting our students’ holistic health) organises a Pop Up Café for parents in Junior School. I go along every week, and am more than happy to have informal chats with parents at the Café. Starting next week I’ll also occasionally be “popping in” in a more formal capacity to provide some information and resources on a range of topics as requested by parents. Next week’s topic will be “Encouraging Persistence.”
  • Social Decision Making and Problem Solving Skills – As you will read in the newsletter this week, I’ve also started working with Kindergarten, Year 5 and Year 6 weekly to build up their skills in expressing themselves appropriately in social settings and a framework for making decisions in many contexts that reflect their values and priorities.

If you’d like more information about helping kids cope with challenges and developing the skills necessary for success, or on the MindMatters and KidsMatter frameworks, please have a look at the “From the Counsellor” Page on C-Hub, or come and catch up with me at the Pop Up Café!