Care and connect hub ‘a great initiative’

CCCP&C spokesperson, Sharryn Brownlee

Central Coast Council of P&Cs (CCCP&C) has applauded a range of initiatives introduced by the State Government to support the wellbeing and mental health of school communities during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Minister for Education, Sarah Mitchell, said the Government has been prioritising the mental health of students by ramping up wraparound wellbeing support.

“We know how difficult the last 18 months have been for our students, which is why there are more than 3,000 non-teaching staff available – including school counsellors, school psychologists, student support officers and a network of specialist facilitators, wellbeing nurses, school chaplains and school learning support officers – to make sure children feel as supported as possible while they learn from home,” Mitchell said.

“We are also continue to work closely alongside key mental health organisations such as headspace, Reach Out, Kids Helpline and the Black Dog Institute to provide evidence-based resources to our staff and students.”

Schools across the state are running workshops, “wellbeing days” and events to help students look after themselves and each other.

Minister for Mental Health, Bronnie Taylor, said the holistic approach was designed to help students stay mentally fit and build resilience during tough times.

“This is all about empowering families with the tools they need to look out for each other, especially during this challenging time of home schooling,” Taylor said.

“These resources have been developed with leading youth mental health organisations to ensure we are equipping parents, carers, teachers and children with the confidence and knowledge of when and where to seek help if they are feeling overwhelmed or particularly stressed out.”

Mitchell said the mental health and wellbeing of school staff during the remote learning period was also paramount.

“Our teachers, leaders and school staff have done a tremendous job during this difficult period, and the NSW Government has implemented a specialised mental health program called Being Well to support our educators,” she said.

“The ‘Being Well’ program is running workshops for staff to learn how to spot the signs of struggle amongst colleagues and find methods of improving their own mental health along the way.

“We have also introduced a series of ‘wellbeing check ins’ for staff to connect and share ideas on sustaining their wellbeing with colleagues and wellbeing coaches,” Mitchell said.

The Care and Connect Hub also continues to provide practical and targeted support by age group – from pre-school to end of high school – with information and guidance on how and what students, families and staff can do to take care of themselves and others.

CCCP&C spokesperson, Sharryn Brownlee, said during zoom P&C meetings across many schools, wellbeing issues are being raised consistently.

“Many schools have had wellbeing support sessions for students and families by having creative, engaging events, days and activities,” Brownlee said.

“They have also ensured support information is sent home in newsletters, provided on Facebook pages and in apps to try to help everyone cope with the stress during this lockdown.

“It has been hard for many to stay positive and connected.

“So parents, students and staff will be very pleased to hear of the ‘care and connect hub’ – a great initiative and central location for wellbeing support.

“Students, staff and families will all benefit.”

Terry Collins