Australian schools are delivering wellbeing programs to beat anxiety

March 19, 2018

Australian school wellbeing programs

More and more Australian schools are delivering wellbeing programs, and the key reason is to beat anxiety. Nine in 10 independents schools now offering a wellbeing program to students and public schools following suit. 

The annual NAB Independent Schools Survey reveals the huge level of investment schools are making in supporting the mental health and overall wellbeing of their students, with programs ranging from mindfulness and meditation practices to the building of special buildings equipped with swimming pools, yoga studios and spaces of quiet reflection.

Only 62 per cent of girls in secondary schools had a strong sense of wellbeing, according to the survey, and more than 55 per cent were assessed as anxious.

Boys had higher levels of wellbeing and lower levels of anxiety, and primary school students fared much better than older students.

The head of Behavioural and Industry Economics at NAB, Dean Pearson, said schools had instituted a wide array of programs to respond to escalating anxiety among young people.

An overwhelming majority of independent schools now have wellbeing programs in place, with schools creating new specialist positions such as Directors of Wellbeing, and employing wellbeing coaches to counsel children.

Melbourne Girls Grammar school is about to open a special new community hub which integrates academic study, fitness coaching and wellbeing programs.

"We were inspired to build a community hub that integrated learning with physical environments and social areas, so that we symbolically represented to our girls that life is to be lived in an integrated way," principal Catherine Misson said.

"We talk about a wellbeing ecosystem at Melbourne Girls Grammar, and learning fits within that. We've brought a specialist workforce in wellbeing to Melbourne Girls Grammar. The wellbeing coaches are a dedicated, student-focussed workforce.

"And they come with the skills to coach our girls on self-management and self-care.

"It's about equipping girls with the strategies that will take them through not only school, but into life, so that they will form habits for life that are about maintaining a confident sense of identity, positive connections to others and a real optimism about their future."

At Kingswood College in Melbourne's east, students often start the week by listening to the ringing of a Tibetan singing bowl.

They debrief about the events of their weekends and reflect quietly on the week ahead.

"We base what we do on our commitment to holistic learning — the mind, body, heart and spirit," principal Elisabeth Lenders said.

"I think our young people like those everywhere worry about what the future means, because the level of change in our society is exponential.

The full findings of the NAB school survey on student mental health can be viewed here.


To find out more about offering wellbeing programs to your school Australia wide, contact The Wellness Union