Teachers can now help students better understand what influences their own and others’ mental health and wellbeing with the help of a new online resource.
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) has teamed up with experts at Beyond Blue and Headspace to develop the Curriculum Connection content.
As the name suggests, the resource is aimed at supporting educators to make teaching connections across different areas of the Australian Curriculum – including Health and PE, Digital Technologies, English, Humanities and Social Sciences, and the Arts. Teachers can filter the information by year level, learning area, general capability or cross-curriculum priority.
Announcing the launch, ACARA says it was developed in response to an increase of mental health concerns. ‘Last year, education ministers called for a review of the Australian Curriculum content on this issue, which led to ACARA hosting a Mental Health Forum in July 2022 with key stakeholders. At this conference, a number of recommendations were made, including the creation of this new Curriculum Connection resource.’
Key learning aspects
In the resource, there are 4 interrelated key learning aspects used to help teachers prioritise mental health and wellbeing content across the Curriculum:
Connectedness and belonging
‘A strong sense of connectedness, belonging and inclusion is a significant factor for positive mental health and wellbeing. … When children and young people feel a sense of belonging, they are more motivated and more successful learners,’ (ACARA, 2023). Student learning in this aspect includes exploring their own identity and the groups they belong to, personal and cultural identities and the factors that influence them, the importance of social connections, and respectful interactions with others.
Personal and social skills
‘Students with well-developed social and emotional skills find it easier to manage themselves, relate to others, collaborate, develop empathy, set goals and resolve conflict. They feel positive about themselves and the world around them,’ (ACARA, 2023). Student learning in this aspect includes exploring how our emotions are influenced and how to manage them, building resilience, persistence and the ability to adapt in difficult situations, and positive, safe and respectful relationships.
‘Accessing reliable and timely information, services and support networks helps children and young people to remain healthy, safe and develop help-seeking behaviours,’ (ACARA, 2023). Student learning in this aspect includes a critical awareness of reliable information, services and support networks available to them, and how they can use the information and support to promote their own health, safety and wellbeing and that of others, managing personal safety (online and offline), and strategies for dealing with situations where health, safety and wellbeing are at risk.
‘Developing awareness and understanding of behaviours that enhance mental health and wellbeing supports children and young people to make decisions and take action that leads to positive outcomes for themselves and their community,’ (ACARA, 2023). Student learning in this aspect includes understanding the benefits of physical activity, following national physical activity and screen-usage recommendations, understanding the value of quality sleep, understanding the benefits of health eating, and exploring how kinship and extended family structures in First Nations Australian communities support and enhance health, safety and wellbeing.
Developing a whole-school program
The resource page explains: ‘The Mental health and wellbeing Curriculum connection shows how content from across the Australian Curriculum learning areas, general capabilities and cross-curriculum priorities can be organised to develop whole-school mental health and wellbeing education programs.’
Teachers are also encouraged to make additional connections to suit their own student and school context. To help, there are links to national, and state and territory evidence-based tools and programs, including those to support families and communities.
Updates to 2 previously published Curriculum Connections topics – Online Safety and Respect Matters – have also been released to bring the content in line with the Australian Curriculum, Version 9.0.
ACARA. (2023). Australian Curriculum: Understand this Curriculum connection. https://v9.australiancurriculum.edu.au/teacher-resources/understand-this-curriculum-connection/mental-health-and-wellbeing/