NSW BOOSTS MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT IN PRIMARY SCHOOLS

Thousands of NSW public primary school students will benefit from classes to help them build resilience and deal with issues such as anxiety, stress and bullying.

Education Minister Rob Stokes today announced the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government will partner with the Buildcorp Foundation to roll out the Smiling Mind school mindfulness program at 400 government primary schools across the State.

“We can’t slow down the pace of technological change – but we can ensure that students have the coping mechanisms and resilience needed to thrive in the modern world,” Mr Stokes said.

“Clinical research shows us that mindfulness leads to reduced stress, anxiety and depression, not to mention better academic skills, social skills and self-esteem.”

Under the partnership, the NSW Government and the Buildcorp Foundation will invest $1.2 million each for Smiling Mind to deliver mindfulness sessions to about 100,000 students in 400 schools. It will also provide training for about 8000 teachers, as well as deliver teaching and student resources and lesson plans.

Mr Stokes said the roll out will preference schools in rural and remote locations, as well as those in lower socio-economic areas.

Smiling Mind CEO Dr Addie Wootten said that this was an important and meaningful step in taking preventative action to help NSW students develop the skills needed to be mentally healthy, resilient and engaged learners.

“One of the key benefits of the program is the development of emotional awareness and self-regulation skills so that students are better able to manage life’s challenges and build healthy and connected relationships,” Dr Wootten said.

“One in seven primary-aged children are experiencing mental health problems, which is why it’s vital we focus on preventative measures and adopt a holistic approach to mental health and wellness. This will help support the creation of vibrant and thriving generations of future Australians.”

Today’s announcement builds on the NSW Liberals & Nationals’ commitment last month to ensure every public high school has two full-time experts to ensure students have easy access to vital mental health and wellbeing support.