The Western NSW Local Health District’s (LHD) Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service has partnered with the Department of Education & Communities (Western Region), Catholic Education Office and Independent Schools to deliver an innovative conference to address Mental Health issues affecting school students.
School Link Coordinator Cathie Matthews said it was recently identified that many of the staff working with young people were seeking greater practical understanding of mental health issues that can affect school aged children.
“I had an overwhelming response to a recent survey that I issued to schools in the Orange region. The respondents indicated interest in receiving information on mental health issues and services available to support their students.
“This conference has attracted more than 375 participants, with people travelling from all over the state to attend this unique forum.” Ms Matthews said.
A wide range of issues will be discussed during concurrent sessions over the 2 day conference. Speakers will deliver information on anxiety, depression, self-harm, trauma, suicide and eating disorders.
“A number of our younger persons will experience some form of mental health concern during their formative years. Monday’s presentations are very much targeted towards providing teachers, teacher’s aides, school counsellors, welfare workers and staff with practical strategies for the classroom for facilitating students’ mental health.
“On Tuesday there are specialised sessions available for staff who are working more intensively with students with mental health concerns such as clinicians, counsellors and specialists,” said Ms Matthews.
The conference will place particular emphasis on the importance of early intervention and access to the support services that are available in our local communities.
“We will have the opportunity to hear about some really exciting initiatives that are being introduced, including Getting on Track in Time or GOT-IT, Student Resilience Programs from Department of Education Student Executive team, as well as a number of really practical sessions. We have many local speakers, working in mental health and education, as well as some presenters from Sydney and Melbourne.
“This conference is all about giving the people who are working with young students, information about not only identifying, but helping and supporting those children who need to have their mental health concerns addressed.” Ms Matthews said.