Game-changing tool to support children's mental health and wellbeing
- Thursday, September 15, 2022 - 12:00 PM
The Children's Wellbeing Continuum, developed under the leadership of MHiPS Director, Prof Frank Oberklaid, is being heralded by experts as a game-changer for children’s mental health by reducing stigma, detecting those who are struggling and linking them to early support services.
The Children’s Wellbeing Continuum is an evidence-based tool developed to support conversations around children’s wellbeing. The tool provides a snapshot of a child’s social and emotional wellbeing at a point in time.
The Continuum has four anchor points that range from “Good” through to “Coping”, “Struggling” and “Overwhelmed”. By enabling parents, teachers and service providers to more easily discuss and reflect on wellbeing, the Continuum can support health literacy, and early identification and action when children are struggling.
Children’s mental health challenges are relatively common, with about one in seven children experiencing a mental health diagnosis in any 12-month period and another 10 per cent struggling with symptoms that impact everyday activities.
There are a variety of factors that prevent children from receiving the mental health care that they need, and up until now, a lacking shared language around children’s mental health had been one of those barriers.
Professor Oberklaid, Director of the Mental Health in Primary Schools (MHiPS) project, says, “The language used to describe a child’s mental health and wellbeing has an important effect on how mental health is understood. For many families, mental health is not an easy topic to discuss, so tools that help to start a conversation about how a child is feeling shifts the dialogue to a focus on the child and not a diagnosis.”
“The creation of a shared language has given teachers and parents the confidence to promote and nurture good mental health, recognise emerging problems and access appropriate support in a timely manner.”
Another strength of this tool is its continuum-based approach. As a continuum, it prompts users to recognise that children’s social and emotional wellbeing is dynamic.
The tool has been introduced into schools by the MHiPS project and is already harnessing positive feedback from teachers and parents alike. Teachers are reporting that the tool is enabling them to identify students that are struggling earlier and is prompting discussions about appropriate next steps. Parents are describing that the tool is helping to support early conversations about what their children are struggling with.
For more information, contact Simone Darling, MHiPS Senior Program Manager: Simone.Darling@mcri.edu.au
The National Mental Health Commission helped to fund the development of the continuum.