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Footage of Chloe’s Story is available on request

Mental health in the spotlight as schools receive vital support

Strategy for schools launched at international conference.

A project designed to help teachers, school counsellors and health staff to better recognise and respond to young people with complex mental health problems, including self-harm, suicide, trauma and emerging borderline personality disorder, was launched at the University of Wollongong (UOW) today (Friday 4 November).

Project Air Strategy for Schools will be launched by NSW Minister for Mental Health The Hon Pru Goward MP at the 10th Annual Conference on the Treatment of Personality Disorders.

The project was designed by UOW researchers in collaboration with NSW Health clinicians and Department of Education teachers and school counsellors.

The tools have been developed to assist schools better recognise and respond to young people with complex mental health problems.

New guidelines, fact sheets, train-the-trainer resources and a short film called Chloe's Story bring key messages of hope for schools principals, teachers and student welfare teams struggling to support young people with serious mental health problems.

Dr Michelle Townsend, from UOW’s School of Psychology and the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, helped develop the program.

She said with one in five adolescents experiencing a mental health disorder, schools are on the front line in supporting Australia’s youth.

“Our program aims to provide NSW public schools with the information, training and resources to better support students with complex mental health needs to engage in school life and complete their education.”

The work will form part of the Project Air Strategy training currently being implemented throughout local health districts and schools across NSW, led by UOW's Professor Brin Grenyer.

Professor Grenyer said the short film, Chloe’s Story, showed how a young person's life was turned around when a teacher notices her falling behind and steps up to rally teachers, psychologists, the family and students.

“With the right support and treatment Chloe learns to stop her suicidal and self-harming behaviour and is able to stay at school to focus on her studies,” he said.

“We can all play a positive role in young people's lives if we have the tools to understand what is effective and that is what this program gives teachers, health staff and schools.”

The conference is now in its 10th year and is the only research-focused conference on personality disorders of its kind in Australia.

It attracts hundreds of local, interstate and international health practitioners and academics, families, carers and consumers who will visit UOW on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 November.

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  • NSW Minister for Mental Health Pru Goward MP launches Project Air Strategy for Schools. 

  • VIPs at the launch of Project Air Strategy for Schools.