Evaluation finds staff agree that MHiPS increased the capacity of schools and teachers to support student mental health and wellbeing.
The Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System highlighted the need for comprehensive mental health support of young people, and in particular, recognised the critical role of schools. A recently published evaluation of the MHiPS pilot program indicated increased mental health literacy of teachers, parents, children, and schools.
“Mental health literacy” describes the capacity of schools and staff members to support student mental health and wellbeing, as well as the confidence to appropriately address mental health challenges as they arise. This is crucial to measure in addition to mental health outcomes, as it speaks to the sustainability of embedding the program in broader existing wellbeing student support structures at school.
Report findings are based on data from three cohorts of participants in the pilot program across 2021-2022, including survey responses from staff and parents, and focus groups. The results from the evaluation of the pilot program were positive, and will pave the way for the expansion of the program from 100 schools to every government and low-fee non-government primary school in Victoria by 2026.
The report found that:
- There was strong endorsement of the program from Mental Health and Wellbeing Leaders (MHWLs) and school staff, with many respondents emphasising the importance of the MHWL having an educational background
- Classroom teachers had more confidence in supporting student mental health, from implementing socio-emotional learning approaches to identifying students with mental health concerns. MHWLs had observed increased help-seeking behaviour from students, among other early signs of positive effects on some student mental health and wellbeing outcomes.
Limitations to the implementation of the program centred around time constraints of MHWLs in schools and managing competing priorities. Other challenges included lack of staff buy-in and lack of clarity around the role. Support from school leadership was identified as fundamental in ensuring successful integration of the MHWL role. These insights have been valuable in expanding the program, while also maintaining the feasibility, acceptability and impact that was observed in the previous upscaling from 10 schools in 2020 to 100 schools in 2022.
The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute was engaged by the Victorian Department of Education to undertake this pilot evaluation in 2022. Overall, there was strong endorsement of the MHWL model, with longer-term outcomes and follow-ups to come!
The full report and summary are available for download on the Department’s website.
For further enquires, contact the Student Mental Health Branch by email: firstname.lastname@example.org