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Mental health

Mental health is a broad area, influenced by diverse factors.

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At the personal level, mental health refers to the quality of a person's psychological, social, and behavioural functioning in the world.

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The Mental Health Foundation, 1995

Positive mental health is a prerequisite if students are to reach their highest academic, physical, and social potential.

The implementation of programmes in this key area of learning will contribute to the development of a safe emotional environment in classrooms and the wider school, as required by National Administration Guideline 5 (i).

In this key area of learning, students will have opportunities to explore the ways in which the physical, mental and emotional, social, and spiritual dimensions of hauora contribute to mental health.

Students will examine social, cultural, economic, and environmental factors that influence people's mental health, including the effects of media messages.

Students will use critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to develop strategies and safety procedures for avoiding, minimising, or managing risk situations.

A supportive classroom environment is necessary for quality learning in mental health.

In supportive classroom situations, students can acknowledge diverse points of view, accept a range of abilities, and show concern for one another. Teachers should use a range of teaching and learning strategies that encourage all students to participate fully in the programme.

School-wide policies and practices that promote equality, fairness, and non-violence will support classroom programmes and help to develop a school environment that enhances students' mental health.

Students require a range of learning opportunities in mental health. These include opportunities to develop:

  • knowledge and understanding of the benefits of physical activity, relaxation, and recreation in relation to mental health
  • understandings and personal and interpersonal skills to enhance relationships 
  • knowledge, understandings, and skills to: 
    • strengthen personal identity and enhance a sense of self-worth
    • examine discrimination and stereotyping, and to evaluate their impact on people's mental health
    • support themselves and other people during times of stress, disappointment, and loss
    • make informed, health-enhancing decisions in relation to drug use and misuse
    • recognise and respond to situations of abuse and harassment
  • values and attitudes that support the enhancement of mental health for the students themselves, other people, and society such as:
    • a positive and responsible attitude to their own well-being
    • respect for the rights of other people
    • are and concern for other people
    • a sense of social justice.

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