KidsMatter, Kids Helpline and KidsHelpline @ School share the goal of promoting wellness and increasing resilience in young people. These initiatives aim to improve the capacity of primary schools to support the mental health and wellbeing of students.
What is Kids Helpline?
Kids Helpline is a free, 24-hour private and confidential counselling service for young people aged five to 25 years. Fully qualified, professional counsellors provide information, support and counselling to young people all around Australia. Kids Helpline, with the support of Optus, runs a program for primary schools called Kids Helpline @ School which KidsMatter schools can use to support their implementation.
What is Kids Helpline @ School?
Kids Helpline @ School is a free early intervention program that allows Australian primary schools to invite a Kids Helpline counsellor into their classroom via a video or phone link. Teacherscan specify the topic that they’d like their class to engage with or can choose from a range of previously developed sessions, which have been created in response to the most common issues children and young people seek information about on the Kids Helpline website.
Teachers are involved in booking the session and play an important role in co-facilitating the session with the Kids Helpline counsellor. Topics currently available include:
- staying safe online
- feeling sad
- family arguments
- friendship (making/keeping friends)
- transition to high school
- introduction to Kids Helpline
- coping with change at school
- developing resilience
Teachers can access activities and resources to help prepare for the sessions online. Each Kids Helpline @ School session has been developed to align with the general capabilities of the Australian Curriculum. The classroom-based sessions do not offer individual counselling; however, students are introduced to Kids Helpline services and invited to contact the service should they indicate the need for assistance during the session.
How can Kids Helpline and Kids Helpline @ School support your school to address the KidsMatter Component Target Areas?
KidsMatter is working in partnership with Kids Helpline @ School to connect KidsMatter Primary schools with Kids Helpline counsellors. The Kids Helpline @ School program is a great example of how aspects of children’s mental health and wellbeing can be supported at school. Kids Helpline @ School can complement existing mental health and wellbeing programs already in place at your school, including the KidsMatter framework. Kids Helpline and Kids Helpline @ School provide online resources to help support the mental health and wellbeing of children within the four KidsMatter components.
Component 1: Positive school community
Component 1 aims to increase awareness of mental health and wellbeing in school communities. It focuses on developing respectful relationships and a sense of belonging and inclusion within the school community. The Kids Helpline counselling service, along with the Kids Helpline @ School program, can help your school to address Component 1 Target Area 2: Respectful relationships, belonging and inclusion.
This Target Area encourages school leadership and staff to create opportunities for students, staff, families and the wider community to be involved in a range of school activities and contribute to school planning. You may meet aspects of Target Area 2 by encouraging your community to develop an awareness of various topics that are known to support mental health and wellbeing. For example, you might choose to:
- provide your school community with information on hot topics with the Kids Helpline online resources (eg bullying, transition to high school)
- run a Kids Helpline @ School session in your school classrooms, which involves students, staff and follow-up resources for families
- invite a health and community professional to run a follow-up session or further activities on a topic presented by Kids Helpline @ School (eg a secondary school health and wellbeing officer discussing transition to school)
- create various resources about the Kids Helpline @ School session topics and display them around the school (eg posters about emotions or ways to help make friends in the playground).
Component 2: Social and emotional learning for students
Component 2 focuses on supporting the development of social and emotional skills for all students. It promotes four core social and emotional competencies including self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making. KidsMatter Primary schools incorporate these competencies into their curriculum and give students an opportunity to practise and transfer these skills. The Kids Helpline counselling service, along with the Kids Helpline @ School program, can help your school to address Component 2 Target Area 1: Effective social and emotional learning (SEL) curriculum for all students.
Social and emotional curriculum:
- covers the core social and emotional competencies (self-awareness, selfmanagement, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making)
- has research evidence of effectiveness or is underpinned by a sound theoretical framework
- is taught effectively, formally and regularly in a co-ordinated and supported way throughout the school.
You may meet aspects of Target Area 1 by:
• providing students with direct information from Kids Helpline @ School on topics relating to self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills and responsible decision making (eg Kids Helpline @ School ‘feeling sad’ and ‘friendship – making/keeping friends’ session topics)
• supporting teachers who have co-facilitated sessions with a Kids Helpline counsellor to integrate information into the curriculum in relation to social and emotional learning.
• offering informative resources about session topics that can be passed onto families and practised at home. Hot Topics for children and parents and carers are available via the Kids Helpline website.
How do you see the Kids Helpline @ School sessions being used in your school community?
How might this help achieve your goals of supporting children’s mental health and wellbeing?
How might you measure the impact of providing the information sessions to your school community?
Are there other ways that the Kids Helpline Hot Topics and Kids Helpline @ School program can assist you to implement KidsMatter?