School a good place to work on wellbeing

school1Around the world, schooling is increasingly being viewed as an opportunity to promote students’ overall mental health and wellbeing through the use of programs such as the local KidsMatter.

A new book, Mental Health and Wellbeing: Educational Perspectives, edited by Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Flinders, Rosalyn Shute, brings together contributions from academics, policy-makers and practitioners to examine the burgeoning phenomenon of wellbeing promotion in schools, and to discuss how it is best approached and what it should be aiming to achieve.

The 47 contributors to the book’s 27 chapters include authors from the UK, Malta, Japan, Hong Kong, Greece, Spain, the US and the Lebanon as well as Australia

“People in industrialised countries, particularly, have become very concerned about the mental health of children and adolescents, so trying to do universal programs in schools is one way in which this is being addressed,” Professor Shute said.

In addition to discussing the nature and the content of these programs, the book’s authors look at interventions such as those that target specific groups like adolescents, and also programs that address individual issues or problems such as bullying and disturbed sleep.

The book features seven case-studies, in which practitioners reflect on different examples of wellbeing promotion.

“We hope that people get both theoretical and practical ideas out of this book,” Professor Shute said.

“The basic implication is that mental health and wellbeing cannot and should not be separated from the mainstream curriculum.

“While stand-alone programs are an option, wellbeing promotion should be part and parcel of teaching and learning.

“This has strong implications for teacher training and education, both pre-service and in-service, because time and time again, the authors were saying that teachers are not well prepared to deal with these kinds of issues, they may not be confident or they may not have the right information or the right skills.”

Professor Shute said that the idea of taking a positive approach, as opposed to a mental health problems approach, came through very strongly in the book.

“Preventative and reactive strategies both have their place, but this book tends to concentrate on the former,” she said.

Professor Shute is a member of SWAPv, the Flinders Research Centre for Student Wellbeing and Prevention of Violence, co-directed by Professor Phillip Slee and Professor Rosalind Murray-Harvey. The book is the Centre’s first publication, and one of its aims is to make university research available to a wider audience.

Published by Shannon Research Press, the book is available by emailing

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