School-based mental health program launched in QLD

  • 75% of all mental health issues start before the age of 24
  • One in four young people are living with a mental disorder
  • New program developed by the Black Dog Institute designed to address this

A unique mental health curriculum resource that equips teachers to better understand and help young people with mental health issues is now available in Queensland thanks to The Black Dog Institute, in partnership with MindMatters and nib foundation.

Called HeadStrong, the innovative program uses a series of engaging, humorous cartoon images to enable secondary school teachers to effectively deal with a topic that has traditionally been difficult to teach.

Associate Professor Vijaya Manicavasagar, Director of Psychological Services at the Black Dog Institute and co-developer of HeadStrong says up to 75 per cent of mental health issues emerge during adolescence.

“There is real need to increase the understanding of mood disorders among adolescents. HeadStrong provides a straight-forward curriculum resource for teachers on mental health, depression and resilience based on clinically proven concepts,” Associate Professor Manicavasagar said.

“This resource is specifically targeted for young people. The program’s visual format also lends itself to teaching students with intellectual difficulties as well as low literacy or non-English speaking backgrounds,” she added.

Topics include teen challenges, types of mood disorders, at-risk personality styles, how to seek help for yourself or someone you know, family and school support, and how to build resilience.

nib foundation Chairman, Keith Lynch, said the foundation supported the national expansion of Headstrong following a successful pilot of the program in New South Wales.

“The pilot program received overwhelmingly positive feedback, with 96 per cent of teachers agreeing that the activities were engaging for students and helped achieve their learning outcomes,” Mr Lynch said.

“By providing students with an increased knowledge of mood disorders, their symptoms as well as how and when to seek help, the program aims to help reduce the impact of mood disorders on young people leading to an improvement in their overall health and wellbeing,” he added.

The HeadStrong program is being rolled out nationally in 2013 with the next teacher training to be held in Brisbane South on April 17. Online training will also be available soon.

Find out more about the HeadStrong resource and professional development teacher training at