Evidence-based mental health and wellbeing programs for schools

Introduction

Schools use a range of strategies to support student wellbeing, including classroom practices, curriculum, wellbeing staff, and department based resources and initiatives. Schools may also choose to implement other programs to support specific wellbeing needs.

To assist schools with this process, the NSW Department of Education engaged Monash University to examine the evidence-base associated with mental health and wellbeing programs available for schools, and identify the features of effective and sustainable programs. This research has been developed into resources for schools.

Common features of effective wellbeing programs

The research showed that there are some common features of effective and sustainable programs. These include:

1. Clearly identified aims and objectives of the program.

2. Clear links between the program and the needs of the students and school community

3. Universal program delivery which includes teacher training, support for parents, student intervention and resources.

4. Clearly defined implementation procedures, including roles and responsibilities of staff, details about appropriate monitoring of student outcomes, and ongoing staff consultation following program implementation.

In addition, this research identified programs evaluated in studies published since 2013 showing a high degree of evidence, both in terms of changed student outcomes and sustainable benefits for schools. The review evaluated longer-term efficacy (outcomes evident beyond three-months post-program) of prevention and early intervention mental health programs that have been developed for delivery in school settings.

The research report can be downloaded below.

Resources for schools

Following this research, two resources have been developed to help schools in planning and implementing wellbeing programs.

1. Wellbeing program planning template

A template has been developed to assist school learning and wellbeing teams in reviewing the content, evidence base and school practicalities of any mental health and wellbeing programs being considered for implementation to support students. This template is an optional resource that schools may choose to use to support their planning.

This resource is based on work by Monash University as well as existing resources, which have been adapted for school settings (see document for references).

Download Mental Health and Wellbeing Program Planning Template

2.Evidence-based mental health and wellbeing programs for schools (Monash University, 2020)

The Mental health and wellbeing program document lists programs that were identified in a literature review by Monash University as demonstrating longer term mental health and wellbeing outcomes for students. Refer to Monash University evidence brief above for the inclusion criteria and further details.

It is important to note that the table doesn’t capture all programs that schools may consider for implementation. The absence of a program from the table doesn’t necessarily mean that the program is ineffective. It may be that the evidence available at the time of the review was insufficient or otherwise did not meet the criteria for inclusion.

Access to the programs included will vary according to the established procedures of the program owners and country of origin.

The programs have been organised into the following categories:

1. Anxiety and Depression

2. Self-Harm and Suicide

3. Behaviour and Social Skills

4. Body Image

5. General Programs

Download the Mental Health and Wellbeing program List below

For any questions about these resources, please email wellbeing@det.nsw.edu.au .

Return to top of page Back to top