Building a mentally healthy school environment

Access resources and webinars to support wellbeing, as R U OK? Day reminds us to take the chance to check in.

Wednesday, 30 August 2023 at 12:00 am
Building a mentally healthy school environment

R U OK? Day is the annual national day of action to support all Australians' wellbeing and is a reminder that every day is the day to ask, 'are you okay?’.

On Thursday 14 September 2023, we will mark this year’s R U OK? Day with the theme, ‘I’m here to hear’. This theme encourages us to reflect, check in and start a meaningful conversation on mental health and wellbeing. R U OK? research showed that 4 in 5 people felt better about managing their situation after speaking with a peer.

The R U OK? website has resources and tips to support classroom activities and conversations about wellbeing. The department's R U OK? Day toolkit (login required) also has resources to help you have a conversation with someone who might be struggling and connect them to appropriate support.

Supporting a whole-school approach to wellbeing

Department organisational psychologist Carla Neale advocates a whole-school approach to prioritising emotional and mental wellbeing. This involves collaborative and sustainable efforts for all school community members, including staff, students, parents and carers.

‘When principals, school leaders and teachers can role model help-seeking behaviour for themselves, this can have positive flow-on effects for their colleagues, students and the broader school community,’ Carla said.

‘Help-seeking should be seen as a strength contributing to mentally healthy workplaces and schools.’

Carla said that this approach should include regular wellbeing conversations that are caring and compassionate, and a focus on reducing the work-related risk factors that can impact wellbeing.

Webinars for teachers

For R U OK? Day, the department is providing free webinars on practical wellbeing strategies that busy teachers can use every day, from leading wellbeing expert David Bott.

Register for your preferred session below:

Resources to help

For advice on identifying and managing risks, refer to the department’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Employee policy, along with the range of wellbeing and health supports available.

The department has expert guidance and resources in the Mental Health and Wellbeing Toolkit to promote student mental health and wellbeing, provide early support and refer students to the right services.

Schools can also use the Schools Mental Health Menu to select programs, staff and other support from an evidence-based menu that best meets their students’ mental health and wellbeing needs.

In partnership with Monash University, the High Impact Wellbeing Strategies (HIWS) schools webinar also provides practical and evidence-based strategies for school staff to support student wellbeing.

In addition, the department’s partnership with headspace provides every Victorian government secondary school with access to counselling through Victoria’s headspace centres and hotline support.

You can also access training from headspace to learn more about supporting students with mental health issues. Refer to Programs, training and professional development packages.

Find out more

For support and advice regarding department employee health and safety matters, including mental health, contact the OHS Advisory Service:

For more information regarding mental health policy and programs for schools, contact the Student Mental Health Branch by email:

For an emergency situation or immediate assistance, call mental health services or emergency services on 000.

To speak to someone urgently, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. Lifeline also offers online crisis support.