MindMatters is the key national mental health initiative for secondary schools in Australia.
It promotes mental health and wellbeing of students in secondary schools through a flexible framework that provides useful professional learning, resources and support. The resources enable staff to work with the school community to implement four components:
Component 1: Positive school community
Component 2: Student skills for resilience
Component 3: Parents and families
Component 4: Support for students experiencing mental health difficulties
beyondblue is the lead contract organisation for MindMatters. Principals Australia Institute staff work with schools in every state and territory in Australia to deliver MindMatters. The initiative is funded by the Australian Government Department of Health. Visit the MindMatters website.
1996 – 1999
In 1996 an audit of Mental Health Education in Australian Secondary Schools recommended schools as appropriate settings for the promotion of mental health among young people. The Australian Commonwealth Government funded a National Mental Health in Schools (MindMatters) Pilot Project managed by a consortium from the Youth Research Centre, University of Melbourne, the University of Sydney, Deakin University and the Australian Council of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.” (Whole School Matters, 2012)
The MindMatters pilot project began in November 1997 and ran for approximately 18 months involving 24 schools from government and non-government school systems in all Australian states and territories. The brief of the MindMatters Project was to develop and trial a range of written resources for schools to assist them to adopt a ‘Whole-School’ approach to the promotion of mental health in secondary schools. (MindMatters Evaluation Consortium, 2000)
“Following the pilot, the resources were mass-produced and a new consortium, comprising the Australian Principals Associations Professional Development Council (now Principals Australia Institute) and the Curriculum Corporation, was contracted to actively disseminate the MindMatters resources to schools with a secondary enrolment across Australia.” (Hazell, T, 2006)
2000 - 2006
The MindMatters initiative was launched in 2000 and implemented through the Australian Principals Associations Professional Development Council (now Principals Australia Institute). During this time every secondary school received a resources kit, including booklets and a video, and had access to nation-wide professional development.
The kit contained the following resource booklets and video:
- School Matters
- Educating for Life
- Community Matters
- Enhancing Resilience 1: Communication, Changes and Challenges
- Enhancing Resilience 2: Stress and Coping
- Loss and Grief
- Understanding Mental Illness booklet and video
- Bullying and Harassment
MindMatters included three demonstration projects that operated from 2001 – 2006. They were MindMatters Plus, MindMatters Plus GP and Families Matter. These projects aimed to test innovative approaches to:
- Support secondary school students with high mental health needs;
- Create sustainable referral pathways and partnerships between schools and Divisions of General Practice;
- Engage parents and families in mental health promotion, preventions and early intervention in the secondary school setting.
The success of MindMatters led to the development of a pilot of a similar initiative in primary schools, called KidsMatter.
2006 – 2013
MindMatters moved into a redevelopment phase incorporating lessons learned from each of the MindMatters projects mentioned above to become more streamlined and to ensure consistency with the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) Mental Health initiatives and other relevant Australian Government initiatives.
Key findings from evaluations conducted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health and La Trobe University MindMatters Plus, throughout 2001 – 2006, led to the conceptualisation and development of the MindMatters Whole School Model. This model drew on the previous health promoting school’s framework but added aspects that emerged as critical to the success of MindMatters implementation in schools.
Additional training was developed to increase the capacity of a wide range of schools in order to ensure that all students, and particularly students with high support needs, had a range of initiatives, strategies and pathways to support them.
Principals Australia Institute undertook the creation of six booklets during this contract. These booklets included:
- Whole School Matters;
- Community Matters;
- Enhancing Resilience and Toolkit for Making Connections (small booklet);
- Teaching and Learning;
- Change, Loss and Grief; and
- Empathy and Safety: addressing Bullying and Harassment.
In 2009, the new booklets were trialled in a range of schools across the country, implemented by Principals Australia Institute Inc (now Principals Australia Institute Ltd) Project Officers, who ran trial sessions, and supported schools to run lessons with students and provide feedback. The professional learning identified continued to be offered to secondary schools across Australia until December 2013.
2013 - 2016
In 2013, the Australian Government Department of Health issued a request for tender for the redevelopment of MindMatters. beyondblue was successful and became the lead contractor for the redevelopment of MindMatters. Principals Australia Institute was contracted as the service delivery arm for schools, and provided consultancy support to implement the new MindMatters resources.
Principals Australia Institute supported the development of MindMatters content that required educational expertise, and all professional learning resources, including but not limited to the Briefing and Getting Started professional learning sessions.
Principals Australia Institute also participated in project coordination activities, through its involvement in beyondblue’s MindMatters Implementation Group, which then became the Contract Management Group (CGM) responsible for the strategic aims and progression of the MindMatters initiative and the Project Coordination Group responsible managing the operational issues and reporting to the CGM.
The delivery of MindMatters transitioned to a blended model of professional learning encompassing face to face training and access to online resources. The full suite of online resources became available in May 2015. Principals Australia Institute were required to lead the recruitment of secondary schools, and to support schools to maximise their engagement in the framework, and maintaining the combined KidsMatter Primary and MindMatters State and Territory reference groups.