Learn more about factors that contribute to mental health and wellbeing
Wellbeing is about balance in all aspects in life
It encompasses the health of the whole person – physical, mental, social and emotional. A person’s wellbeing can change moment to moment, day to day, month to month and year to year. It can be influenced by what’s happening in a specific moment and the actions that people take.
As with positive mental health, wellbeing is most likely to flourish in a supportive and inclusive environment – a safe place where diversity is acknowledged, respected and seen as adding to the vibrancy and strength of the entire community.
- Mindfulness: mindfulness help you focus on the present time.
- Nutrition and mental health: good nutrition can promote brain development, mental health and wellbeing.
- Using technology: children and young people are increasingly using online mental health sites as a first port of call for mental health support.
- Building children's confidence: feeling confident helps children do well in all aspects of their life, both now and into the future.
- Decision-making skills: children and young people gradually learn skills for making good decisions, now and into the future.
- Physical activity: there are many positive links between physical activity and mental wellbeing.
- Play: play helps children understand the world and practice for the future.
- Self-management: self-management is a key developmental skills linked to mental health, resilience and capacity to cope.
- Resilience: children and young people need resilience. It's important in managing stress and supporting their mental health.
Child and adolescent development is a crucial influence on mental health and wellbeing
Attachment, brain development, emotional regulation, social relationships, and internalising and externalising behaviours, are important areas influencing child and adolescent mental health, learning and development.
As children and young people develop, different environmental influences – the people and institutions around them – assume greater influence during different life stages. Children and adolescents aren't just passively moulded by external forces – they have agency and choice which enables them to shape and influence their own development.
- Brain development: how the brain develops during childhood and adolescence has a long-lasting influence on a person’s physical and mental health.
- Child development: child development can have lasting impacts on mental health.
- Adolescent development: adolescence is a time of rapid biological, psychological, cognitive, emotional and social change.
- Social and emotional learning: social and emotional learning skills are essential for good mental health and wellbeing.
- Social development: social development is about learning the skills to relate to and interact with others.
- Emotional development: social and emotional learning (SEL) helps us understand and manage our emotions, set and achieve goals and feel good about ourselves.
- Transitions: a supportive transition can make a big difference to children and young people’s engagement, learning and wellbeing outcomes.
- School refusal: for some children and young people, the prospect of going to school can be so difficult they refuse to go.
Learn more about how relationships impact mental health and wellbeing, including bullying
A mentally healthy learning community is characterised by strong, supportive relationships between all the people of that community.
As an educator, you have an opportunity to facilitate connections between people, and to work with your colleagues to create a respectful and inclusive environment that promotes mental health and wellbeing.
- Bullying: bullying is distressing to everyone – but there’s a lot we can do to stop it.
- Communication skills for educators: refining communication skills isn’t difficult – but it does take practice to become habit.
- Cultural diversity and mental health: helping children and young people understand, respect and appreciate cultural differences gives them a sense of belonging in your learning community.
- Divorce and separation: family breakups can be very stressful for children and young people, and can cause changes in mood, temperament and attitude.
- Healthy families: it all starts with family. Healthy families are central to children and young people’s wellbeing.
- Supporting cultural diversity: you can support wellbeing through celebrating cultural diversity.
- Engaging fathers: children’s mental health and wellbeing is enhanced when fathers take a strong interest in their development and learning.
Mental health issues and conditions
Learn more about mental health issues and conditions
Mental health issues encompass various cognitive, emotional and behavioural issues that may cause concern or distress.
They affect how a person thinks, feels and behaves, and include issues which children and young people experience in relation to normal life stressors. This covers the area of the continuum from the yellow zone right through into the red zone.
When an individual has seen a health professional for their mental health issue, they might be diagnosed with a mental health condition. This is a clinical diagnosis (such as depression or anxiety) relating to a condition that significantly interferes with a person’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities.
- Anxiety: feeling stressed is a survival response to situations where there are dangers or threats, however some people react more intensely to such situations – that's when it becomes anxiety.
- Body image: body image is a broad concept referring to the way people think and feel about their appearance.
- Depression: depression can affect anyone, but for children and young people, it can be harder for them to explain how they’re feeling.
- Separation anxiety: separation anxiety is common and normal, but assisting a child in managing it can help them build resilience.
Maintaining your wellbeing is important for supporting the wellbeing of others
Your engagement influences that of children and young people
While you’re putting your energy into creating a positive mental health environment for children and young people, it’s also important to focus on the wellbeing of yourself and your colleagues.
When educators are mentally healthy, and model wellbeing and resilience, it has a positive impact on children and young people, colleagues and the culture of the early learning service or school. It also has demonstrated benefits for the whole learning community.
- Staff wellbeing: while you are putting your energy into creating a positive mental health environment for children and young people, it’s also important to focus on your wellbeing and that of your colleagues.
- Stress management: everyone experiences stress at times, but we can learn how to protect ourselves from getting overwhelmed by it.
Learn about how to support positive mental health and wellbeing when natural disasters occur
Major adverse natural events, such as an earthquakes, bushfires or floods can have wide-reaching impacts on mental health and wellbeing.
Natural disasters can have a significant impact on both individuals and communities, as these events – and circumstances which may follow – are often traumatic. Children and young people are especially vulnerable to the emotional impacts and often rely on adults around them to provide support, information and protection.
- Impact of natural disasters: natural disasters can be stressful and traumatic for children, young people and adults, with impacts on mental health and wellbeing.
- How to provide support (after a natural disaster): learning communities and educators play an important role in supporting children and young people after a natural disaster.
- Educator wellbeing (after a natural disaster): looking after yourself in the event of a natural disaster is the first step to providing support to those around you.
- Grief: we all grieve. For children and young people, understanding and expressing their grief can be particularly hard.
- Trauma: trauma is the result of an event(s) that cause a child or young person to feel pushed beyond their ability to cope.