The purpose of this paper is to highlight new and existing research on school characteristics that are essential elements in building the capacity of school communities to implement whole school approaches to mental health promotion.
Through an overview of recent research and writing the need for a paradigmatic shift is identified so that educational research and school processes as well as mental health outcomes are utilized as the starting point for school mental health promotion.
Much of the current advocated practice for improved mental health outcomes arises from evidence from health sector interventions, evidence that may not match the breadth and complexity of conditions in schools that need to be considered to bring about change. The practice may also ignore school processes and structures and the research that delineates how these operate. The results of research in Australia identify two key educational areas, leadership and professional learning that require an increased focus in school mental health promotion. These have emerged from a decade of experience in the implementation and evaluation of MindMatters.
Health and educational personnel need to target these areas for particular development to ensure strong supports are created for sustainable local school action.
The paper focuses on school leadership and teacher efficacy – areas that have relevance for whole school mental health and wellbeing.
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