Bupa Foundation has announced $300,000 in new funding to extend the Kids Helpline @ School program to high schools across Australia from next year.
The funding, announced today, includes additional financial support for the primary school program, following increasing demand.
According to the most recent figures from Kids Helpline, nearly 70% of all young people who contact the service are high school-aged, with their top concerns being mental health, emotional wellbeing, relationships with family and friends, bullying, and suicide and self-harm concerns.
Kids Helpline counsellors have created sessions for all high school year levels on topics, including coping with changes and transitions; cyberbullying and mental health; emotional intelligence; and everyday resilience.
Speaking at the launch event, St Bede’s College principal Deb Frizza said, the magnitude of the mental health needs in the Australian general population, but particularly for young people, has been increasingly recognised by society and Governments, but also by schools.
“The part played by Kids Helpline at the primary school level has been one very significant aspect of this increased consciousness and it is exciting that they now move into the secondary school space,” Frizza said.
“Improving student mental health literacy, coping, and resilience skills and promoting help-seeking behaviours are now embedded in the core business of schooling. Thankfully, young people in schools – but not all – are increasingly prepared to speak up, but also to provide support to one another.”
Tracy Adams, CEO of yourtown, which operates Kids Helpline said the program is designed to improve mental health literacy, coping and resilience skills, and help-seeking behaviours among high school students.
“The program is aligned to the General Capabilities of the Australian Curriculum and designed to complement a whole-of-school approach to mental health and wellbeing,” Adams told The Educator.
“The initial phase of the program will include consultation with a broad cross section of Secondary Schools across Australia to determine how the program can best address the wellbeing needs of students and what the focus areas should be.”
Adams said this will also include engaging with students to assist in the design of session content.
“Whilst this is underway, delivery will commence utilising modules and content already developed,” she said. “Each session includes satisfaction surveys, and evaluation/s will measure how students apply the knowledge obtained, including their confidence in help-seeking.”
Bupa Asia Pacific Chief Sustainability and Corporate Affairs Officer Roger Sharp said mental health was a major concern among young Aussies and this partnership reinforced Bupa’s commitment to helping young people live happy and healthy lives.
“Supporting the mental health of our young people has never been so important,” Sharp told The Educator. “At the Bupa Foundation we are proud to be investing in innovative prevention and early intervention mental health programs that help kids live life to their full potential.”