Education

New pilot program: Additional mental health support coming to schools

To inform how the government should provide mental health support to young people, a pilot program is being launched at select schools across SA.

The SA Government is beginning to roll out additional mental health support for young people, with its long term goal to employ a central pool of 100 new mental health and learning support specialists in schools.

These professionals – including those with backgrounds in psychology, social work, or occupational therapy – will work in primary and secondary schools and provide timely support students need, as well as guidance for school staff on how to provide ongoing assistance for children.

“If a child is dealing with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues, it can not only have a negative impact on the child’s wellbeing, but also on their school participation and academic achievement,” said Minister for Education, Blair Boyer.

“That means identifying the challenges these children face early and putting in place the professional support around them so they can grow and thrive in the school environment like their peers.”

To inform how support should be rolled out, the government is initiating a pilot program. The government is calling for six mental health practitioners to apply.

The successful candidates will join two Principal Mental Health Practitioners to pilot the service for students at select locations from Term 3.

The practitioners will be school-based, working in three areas in metropolitan Adelaide and three in regional centres:

  • Western Adelaide – Ocean View College and Le Fevre High School
  • Southern Adelaide – Seaford Secondary College and local primary schools
  • Northern Adelaide – Para Hills High School and Parafield Gardens High School
  • Lower Mid-North – Balaklava High School and Clare High School
  • Upper Mid-North – John Pirie Secondary College and local primary schools
  • South East – Penola High School and local primary schools.

The team of mental health practitioners will provide a range of mental health services, including assessing and supporting students with newly-developing mental health concerns.

The pilot will inform the roll out more broadly, seeing 55 new staff working in schools across South Australia by the end of 2023.

The pilot will help collect key information about attracting the right people to these important roles and help match the scope of the service to the needs of student.

“More and more school students are experiencing mental health concerns that are having an impact on their learning,” said Premier Peter Malinauskas.

“These vital practitioners will help triage students, potentially providing early intervention options and referring students to external services.”

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