Everyone’s business: schools, mental health and learning

Catalysing Connections for Adolescent Health and Wellbeing

Thursday 1 August 2019, 5.00 pm to 8.00 pm, MCRI

On Thursday 1st August, 70 people braved the chilly weather and attended our second Catalysing Connections networking event. Professor Susan Sawyer hosted a panel discussion about the health and education interface, and the important role schools play in adolescent (and child) mental health.


To help enact our vision, the CAH run a series of networking events, Catalysing Connections for Adolescent Health and Wellbeing with interested stakeholders. These events bring people together from different disciplines and sectors to discuss the interface between research and policy in adolescent health and wellbeing. Please visit the page for further information and to watch past events.


In Australia, mental health continues to receive much media and political attention, with concerns about high rates of youth self-harm and suicide. More recent research broadens this agenda to the education sector. Early emotional problems profoundly affect learning and academic achievement. Equally it is clear that mental health promotion in school settings can yield great benefits in school engagement and prevent mental health problems. In the international context, achieving synergies between the health and education sectors will be central to policy initiatives in growing human capital. Locally, the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System provides an opportunity to reconsider the role of schools in promoting student mental health and wellbeing.

Using a Q & A format, six panellists explored options for schools and teachers to address the mental health and wellbeing of students as well as the role of health professionals in working with the education sector.


Professor Peter Goss, School Education Program Director, Grattan Institute
Dr Lisa Mundy, Research Fellow, Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study, MCRI
Professor George Patton, Professor of Adolescent Health Research, University of Melbourne, Research Director, Centre for Adolescent Health
Helen Butler, National Education Advisor, headspace School Support
Cathie Nolan, Child Health advisor, Victorian Department of Education and Training
Student ambassador, Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS)


Professor Susan Sawyer, Director, Centre for Adolescent Health

This event is supported by Geoff and Helen Handbury Family Trust


Panel Q&A – What we currently know?

Panel Q&A – What has changed / How is it measured?

Audience Q&A – Gatehouse discussion

Audience Q&A – Primary education, early intervention and transition

Audience Q&A – Child protection services

Audience Q&A – Vulnerable kids and policy strategy


The Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS), this is a unique longitudinal study following over 1200 children as they transition through puberty to adolescence and from primary school to secondary. All publications from this study can be found here: https://cats.mcri.edu.au/publications/

Evans-Whipp, T., Mundy, L., Canterford, L., Patton, G. (2018) Student Wellbeing, Engagement and Learning across the Middle Years, Canberra: Australian Government Department of Education and Training

Mundy, L. K., Canterford, L., Tucker, D., Bayer, J., Romaniuk, H., Sawyer, S., … & Patton, G. (2017). Academic performance in primary school children with common emotional and behavioral problemsJournal of School Health87(8), 593-601.


The Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS) have released a new policy brief, Promoting wellbeing and learning in the middle years: an opportune time for intervention. This brief provides outlines why students in the middle years require attention and recommends methods for policy makers and educators to promote wellbeing and school engagement during this phase of development. It recommends that all states and territories introduce a health promoting framework aimed at strengthening curriculum around social and emotional learning, improving the primary to secondary school transition, and enabling more effective links between education and health services.



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