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Student well-being top of list

11 November 2004 Media Statement

Student well-being top of list

An additional $950,000 per year has been allocated over the next four years to help improve well-being and good mental health in school students, Associate Education Minister Marian Hobbs announced today.

"Youth mental health statistics emphasise a range of issues for young people in New Zealand and the additional funding will continue and extend the professional development initiative that helps schools, teachers and students focus on teaching and learning," Marian Hobbs said.

"The new funding provides professional learning for teachers, and focuses on effective teaching for diverse learners to enhance youth mental health. This is essential if students are to reach their highest academic, physical and social potential in today's world.

"The funding will allow professional development to be extended progressively to about 100 schools each year. Schools will participate in the project for up to two years to ensure classroom strategies and whole-school approaches and policies are developed and operating effectively."

Teachers will be supported to provide students with a range of learning opportunities within the mental health context. This includes enhancing their personal identity, building relationships, managing stress, loss and change, examining choices and consequences in relation to drug use and misuse, and addressing stereotyping, discrimination, abuse and harassment.

"The initiative includes drug education and is based on theory and research about developing student resiliency. It involves schools' senior management, boards of trustees and teachers, and supports schools to improve learning environments in classrooms and in the wider school. Local community needs will also be taken into consideration," Marian Hobbs said.

Teachers will receive in-school mentoring and guidance from providers and will participate in workshops to increase their knowledge in mental health education. These will be linked to Ministry of Education resources and other initiatives and agencies.

Schools' involvement will strengthen links with other schemes including the Youth Suicide Recognition and Prevention Initiative, the Student Engagement Initiative (including the Suspension Reduction Initiative), traumatic incident management, the Youth Development Strategy, and the national drug policy.

ENDS

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