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Mount Eliza Secondary College is developing a program (The Pledge) that tackles adolescent Mental Health by:
1. Developing a culture where bullying and harassment in all its forms is stopped and
2. Students at risk of Suicide and or self-harm are able to be identified and supported by a community which has the skills, competency and processes to help in an effective manner.
The development of this program began in 2012 with the help of School Focussed Youth Services and Bendigo Bank the school took initial steps to try to address these issues. These included:
Pledge week was an initiative first developed in Canada and brought to our school by our Psychologist Garry Byrne. It involved an attempt to change the culture in the school by focussing on students’ attitudes to bullying.
Our student leaders were asked to create a pledge which all students would sign. The pledge focussed on what the students felt about bullying but, more importantly, that they would take action when they witnessed a student being victimised. The motto “Stand Up don’t Stand by” took hold and to celebrate the launch of Pledge week we had a week of activities that focussed on bullying in all its forms.
The school environment plays an important role as a social net to help students at risk in a variety of ways. Well-trained teachers are the mechanism through which we can identify a student who is struggling and then intervene.
Our wellbeing team worked closely with Courtney Gould from Headspace to deliver a program which developed staff skills and confidence in being able to tackle the issue of suicide and self-harm. This three session pilot program was delivered in terms 3 and 4 of 2012.
In term 3 we were very lucky to have Glenn Manton attending the School on a fortnightly basis. Glenn is a former AFL premiership player with the mighty Carlton Football Club (he also had a stint with Essendon but we won’t hold that against him). He is a qualified teacher and has spent the last ten years since his retirement working with young people in a motivational capacity but also as a mentor for students who are going through tough times.
Glenn worked mainly with year 10, throughout term 3, under the guidance of Aaron Prior, focussing on the difficult issues that students face at that age. Glenn was available for students not only at the school but via social media. His role in our school was as an advocate for any students who need his services.
The plan for 2013 is to build on the success of our 2012 program. Pledge Week will be relaunched in 2013 as a vehicle to engage each year level with a different focus that being continuing the stand-up not stand by motto but broadening it to including helping others we see who need it.