KidsMatter is avidly pursuing health and community partnerships for a sector-wide offensive on good mental health! We teamed up with Act-Belong-Commit in 2011 and, together, have made a real difference to the wellbeing of Western Australian children and their families. We spoke with Sarah Graham, Health Promotion Officer at the campaign.

What is Act-Belong-Commit all about?

"Act-Belong-Commit is a Western Australian mental health promotion campaign that encourages people to take action to protect and promote their own mental wellbeing. Evidence suggests that staying active (mentally, physically, socially and spiritually), belonging to community groups and clubs, and committing to challenges and goals that provide meaning and purpose help to keep people mentally healthy." 

How does it benefit children’s mental health in particular?

"Research shows that children who are active are more likely to experience psychological wellbeing, positive self-esteem and reduced stress. Young people with a sense of belonging may demonstrate a better coping repertoire and higher academic aspirations. In addition, children and adolescents who are ‘committed’ may experience greater life satisfaction and reduced levels of stress." 

The Act-Belong-Commit philosophy of social connectedness is aligned with KidsMatter’s emphasis on a positive school community. How can Act-Belong-Commit add value to KidsMatter schools specifically? 

"Social connectedness goes hand-in-hand with a positive community, therefore it makes sense that the two are compatible. In particular, the Act-Belong-Commit model adds value to the KidsMatter Framework as it reinforces the importance to be proactive in looking after your mental health in a simple formula. The message promotes good mental health practices in a simple, self-explanatory way for students, staff and community members; mirroring and building on what the KidsMatter initiative already offers." 

How do Act-Belong-Commit and KidsMatter work together to promote good mental health in children? 

"KidsMatter has assisted by promoting our campaign messages within schools, distributing our educational resources, promoting competitions and events, and encouraging participation in Act-Belong-Commit activities."

What resources would you recommend for families and health and community professionals to support children’s good mental health?

"There are some youth factsheets, educational resources and school-based activities at www.actbelongcommit.org.au that can assist you to teach children about Act-Belong-Commit. 

Here are some Act-Belong-Commit tips specifically for children:
• encourage the development of writing and reading skills
• explore more complex mathematical problems
• give children the opportunity to look after animals
• teach children about history and the Australian culture
• get involved in at least one sporting team each season
• teach children to look after the environment and nature
• encourage children to volunteer and donate time to community fundraisers
• socialise with other children outside of school
• limit ‘screen time’ to a maximum of two hours per day."
 
Speak to KidsMatter today about becoming a health and community partner.