Although there is increasing interest in promoting mental health and wellbeing within education, to date, the voices of young people appear to have been almost completely overlooked in the development of school-based mental health practices. This is despite increasing focus on young people’s participation; and the fact that young people may be best positioned to understand the pressures of contemporary society. This paper, co-authored by educational psychologists (EPs), school students and the school vice-principal, documents the development of a student-led mental health initiative within a high-achieving girls’ grammar school, led by students aged 12-18. Following EP input, the students devised a whole-school, student-friendly mental health strategy with the support of the EPs and senior school staff. As the project progressed, it became evident that applying even carefully-selected adult mental health models to school contexts might not be appropriate; instead the students advocated for young person-friendly, innovative, contemporary and creative ways of communicating information about mental health, which avoided stigma. The students involved were well-placed to identify environmental stressors and to disseminate their strategy. The authors conclude that mental health planning in schools should encourage greater student participation, show caution over applying adult mental health models and promote greater use of technology or visual resources.
- mental health