Posted By Dural Rotary

Dural Rotary was represented by Paul Baumgartner, Frank Chapman and Sue Coleman at two mental health forums at Galston High School on Wednesday 7 March.

In previous years the forums were only held for Year 11 students. This year the school asked that we address both Years 10 and 11 in separate sessions as it is considers the younger students need to hear the presentations sooner so they are better prepared for potential challenges. It is proposed that in future Year 10 will be our audience.

The morning began at 9am and concluded at 12.45pm and 225 students listened attentively. Psychologists Peter Casbolt and Leanne Hall spoke engagingly about identifying and managing depression, anxiety and stress, building resilience and looking look out for one another. The high dependency on mobile phones brings its own distraction and students were given strategies to set boundaries with their friends about their availability particularly at night. Sleep is most important, so no harm in telling friends that they will not be responding to messages after 9pm.

The value of having a whole year group in the one room to hear from the psychologists is that they all walk away with the same information and common ground for follow up conversations.

The Deputy Principal said the buzz and feedback in the locker room at Recess was positive while several students remained behind to ask in-depth questions of both Peter and Leanne.

The aim of school forums is to raise awareness of mental health issues that are relevant at their stage of adolescence and encourage students to talk to someone if things aren’t quite right. Peter and Leanne gave tips on how to start a conversation with a friend if they notice behaviour patterns or things have changed for their friend and offer to go with them to see the school counsellor or a teacher. Talking about it is an important first step.

It was pleasing that students took away practical strategies and new knowledge following the forum. If just one young person was helped, our aim was achieved.

Thanks go to Allan and Joan Forno for arranging the folders to be delivered and filled with handouts for the students, to Paul our MC for the morning, and to Frank for representing the Club and assisting with the practical aspects of the morning. The Club acknowledges the ongoing support of Bendigo Bank providing for photocopying of handouts.

Our next school forum is on Friday 6 April at Marian College, starting at 11.45 am. You are welcome to come along and see a school mental health forum first-hand.

Sue Coleman

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