InterCAMHS :: Events
Twelve Intercamhs members gave presentations at the first International Meeting. Here is a brief synopsis of each presentation and the email address of the member who gave it. You are welcome to contact the presenters for further information.
Peter Paulus, Germany
Although Germany does not have a national policy on school mental health promotion, the country has, over the last 10 to 12 years, paid attention to school mental health problems with various programs that tackled the issue indirectly. One new four-year program just starting in Germany targets mental health more directly. This is the problem-based and setting-based resource “MindMatters”, an adaptation of an Australian project for mental health promotion in secondary school. In a “qualification of education through health” approach we have a growing number of efforts to improve schools as organizations through health promotion. The main focus here is on teachers’ mental health problems and salutogenetic factors. Available data in Germany shows that teachers very often have mental health problems due to stress and often retire early because of mental illness (“depression”).
Jean-Pierre Valla, Canada
Jean-Pierre presented recent research that documented the prevalence of ‘over-indulged’ children (with related problems such as obesity). He indicated that this group had now reached epidemic proportions in Quebec, creating major problems in schools and taxing the mental health care system (although these children may not be considered psychiatric cases). Early screening using the Dominic Interactive (DI) and Cognitive Behavioral group Interventions (CBI) can help solve these pressing problems.
Jim Koller & Ed Morris, Missouri, United States
The Center for the Advancement of Mental Health Practices in Schools at the University of Missouri – Columbia strives to prepare individuals who work with children and adolescents to address the mental health needs of today’s youth. The Center offers resources for school personnel, parents, and the community to encourage the development of mental health practices in our schools and throughout the community. The following resources can be utilized from the Center: courses for teachers and other human services personnel that focus on the mental health needs of children and adolescents, as well as school staff; unique on-line masters and educational specialist degree programs with a focus on mental health in schools; research-based training modules on mental health issues that focus primarily on prevention; consultation services for groups or individuals.
Katherine Weare, United Kingdom
Mental health and education have traditionally operated in separate arenas and been rather suspicious of one another, but they are now starting to work together more effectively. Mental health is no longer seen as a synonym for mental illness; it is increasingly seen as being ultimately about positive wellness as well as a concern with problems. Education is increasingly interested in the role of emotion in education, in learning and in behavior. Concerns about teacher stress are bringing teachers’ mental health to the forefront, as teachers are unlikely to be interested in the mental health of students if they themselves do not feel supported and cared for. Recent experience in the US and UK suggests that agencies that want to work with schools to promote mental health need to understand these major changes, capitalize on them, and liaise with a range of other agencies. They need to work in a preventive, low key, flexible manner, shaping the whole school context to promote the mental health of all, as well as working with those with problems.
Michael Murray, United Kingdom
Mental health promotion in schools has been under-funded for many years and the degree and prevalence of mental health problems among children have been under-estimated. It is against this background that promotion and prevention has become an increasingly important feature of health policy at local, national and international levels. Recent years have witnessed a series of initiatives to promote collaboration and co-operation between organizations and individuals, but further action is needed to bring people, programs and policies together. It is not so much lack of expertise, knowledge or even effective programs that hinders progress, but the lack of: shared information about ongoing research and programs; international collaboration and co-ordination; and management and planning in the development, dissemination and implementation of effective programs.
Kevin Hogan, Minnesota, United States
As a recipient of a Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiative grant in 2000, Saint Paul Public Schools have had an opportunity to develop and implement school-based mental health programming, utilizing community-based mental health consultants (Wilder Foundation – Mental Health and Educational Services), school support staff and the learner support framework developed by the School Mental Health Project-UCLA. The impact of this work has set a foundation for school reform in this area in the Saint Paul Schools and has begun to show positive effects on school climate and student success.
Pauline Dickinson, New Zealand
TRAVELLERS is a study exploring the potential of a targeted school-based group program to enhance protective factors for young people experiencing change, loss and early signs of emotional distress. The study has involved a pilot phase with two secondary schools over one year and a two-year trial phase during 2002/2003. The TRAVELLERS project provides a means of identifying and selecting young people who may benefit from participating in the TRAVELLERS group program. Groups are offered to up to 12 young people in Year 9 (first year secondary in Aotearoa/New Zealand – age 13-14 years). The name TRAVELLERS represents the metaphor “life as a journey” which involves negotiating the changes and challenges that life presents. Group sessions are interactive with the content focusing on empowerment and strength-building.
Mary Byrne, Ireland
Social, personal and health education has become a mandatory curriculum subject in Irish schools only in the last three years. Our research center, in collaboration with a regional health authority, has recently developed and evaluated a curriculum-based module promoting positive mental health for 15-18 year olds. The module consists of 13 sessions over two years and uses experiential learning techniques to address issues such as understandings of mental health, dealing with emotions (anger, conflict, rejection and depression) and sources of support for young people in distress (family and friends, as well as support services in the community). A number of implementation issues have arisen which are relevant to similar projects in other countries, such as consultation and partnership with stakeholders, teacher training, fidelity to program materials and selection of appropriate quality indicators.
Dóra Guðrun Guðmundsdóttir, Iceland
In 2000, an ex-service user came up with the idea of starting a project to promote mental health in Iceland. Geðrækt (The Icelandic Mental Health Promotion Project) was founded that year in cooperation with the University Hospital of Iceland, the Icelandic Mental Health Alliance and the Directorate of Health. The main goal of the project is to enhance mental health prevention and promotion throughout the entire society with education. The aim is to raise awareness of mental health, emphasizing that everybody possesses a form of mental health. A study made by Gallup in November 2002 showed that about 50% of 16-80 year olds had heard about “Geðrækt” and one third were aware of what mental health and mental health promotion is all about.
Chris Bale, United Kingdom
Zippy’s Friends is an international school-based mental health promotion program that develops the coping skills of young children. Unlike most programs, which are national or local in scope and focus on helping children with specific problems or risk factors, Zippy’s Friends was designed to be truly international and benefit children of all backgrounds and abilities. It has been piloted in Denmark and Lithuania and subjected to two rigorous scientific evaluations. The results are impressive and the program is now being made available internationally through a series of partnerships with educational authorities and agencies. It is currently running in Denmark, England, India and Lithuania, and is expected to be in nine countries by the end of 2004.
Teresita Garcia, Philippines
A case study of one school, Donum Dei Academy, exemplifies what works in a school in a developing country. To promote mental health, a school must be legally recognized by the government. The educational program(s) must be viable. The school personnel involved must be fully committed to the mission/vision of the institution. Donum Dei Academy is one of the primary models operating and promoting mental health in the Philippines. Donum Dei comes from the Latin term meaning Gift of God. Every child is God’s gift to society. It’s every educator’s task to discover and uncover the God given qualities.