An inspiring guide for children on how to be happier and more resilient will be the focus of a new Australian Government-funded research programme into the benefits of teaching primary school children the skills to manage their own mental health.
The book “A for Attitude”, written by Melbourne author Julie Davey, gives primary school children the tools to cultivate emotional awareness, build mental wellbeing, and develop good social skills.
Originally self-published in 1998 and now in its eighth edition, “A for Attitude”, has been published in more than a dozen countries and has been used in many schools on the Mornington Peninsula over a number of years.
The book will now be the basis of an Australian Government-funded research program exploring its benefits for children and the extent to which it might have national application.
The Government is providing almost $95,000 to the Attitude Books Foundation for the two-year project which will examine the book’s impact on Grade 3 students in Victorian primary schools. The Attitude Books Foundation is a not for profit organisation established in 2015 to boost the life skills of Australian children.
The evaluation will be undertaken by Dr Michelle Kehoe from Alfred Health’s Childhood Youth Mental Health Service and will start in early 2019. It will involve up to 400 students across five schools. The study will collect data on the benefits to students’ social skills and social and emotional wellbeing. Focus groups will also be held with teachers, a selection of students, and parents at each school.
Mental illness, chiefly anxiety and depression, affects one in seven Australian children, and more than half of all mental illnesses begin before the age of 14.
Providing children with early support and the skills to build good mental health is critical.
The Australian Government has also committed $98.6 million over five years to beyondblue to deliver ‘Be You’, a national programme providing mental health information, advice and support to teachers.
Mental health is one of the key pillars in the Australian Government’s long-term national health plan. The Government committed an additional $338.1 million to mental health in this year’s Budget and is expected to spend almost $4.7 billion on mental health this year.