School-based Mental Health Programmes
The Centre’s Education team had a remarkable year in 2015. With support from the Quality Education Fund (QEF), the web and school-based mental health promotion programme, “The Adventures of DoReMiFa”, was successfully rolled out among children in primary schools. Students of participating schools were found to have improved mental health indicators after receiving teachings in empathy, gratitude, emotional management, and interpersonal skills. The team produced manuals and e-lessons on various topics of mental health for students, teachers, and parents, and held a dissemination seminar to share its success stories with local schools and non-government organizations.
The QEF is also committed to strengthening evidence-based practice and establishing networks for the sharing of good practice. One of its projects with the CSRP, Thematic Network on Developing Students’ Positive Attitudes and Values, is a universal evidence-based mental health programme aimed at promoting holistic wellbeing among students. The project went through planning stage in 2015. So far the team has developed teaching plans and held an Executive Committee meeting in November 2015 to present the directions and plans for the project to various stakeholders including representatives from the Education Bureau and principals from different core schools. Stakeholders at the meeting gave positive feedback to the team and valuable suggestions for successful implementation of the project. We look forward to the implementation stage of the programme in 2016 and hope to continue to positively impact the mental health of our future generation.
Getting Creative with Teaching about Mental Health
Our team is committed to making learning about mental health a fun experience for students. This has led to incorporating movie clips, stories, art making, and interactive games in teaching material for 2016. The intended outcome is that learning be an engaging process that does not overwhelm students.
A new teaching style called “brain-based learning” will also undergo trial in the classrooms of primary schools. One example is “think-pair-share”, which facilitates teaching by grouping students in pairs and have them share their own experiences and feelings in different circumstances after reading a story. As in secondary schools, mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques and mindful yoga will be introduced in the student programme. Students are encouraged to stay in the present moment and to increase their awareness of one’s physical and psychological needs.
Community involvement can make a meaningful differences in the lives of those in need, and cross-sectoral partnership is powerful for mobilizing existing resources to make an impact. Project WeCan is a business-school partnership programme in which various business corporations provide human and financial resources for less-privileged students. The CSRP performed an evaluation on this project and saw that students participated in the programme had developed different kinds of skills and felt more hopeful about their futures. The evaluation showed the positive impacts of such programmes and suggested that more students could benefit from further corporate participation. We hope to support the development of new partnerships in the future.
The Angels of Education Team
Not only the participants benefited from our projects. Our staff also have had a great experience promoting mental health:
“The most unforgettable lesson is one of the positive psychology lessons on gratitude. I was surprised and touched to see special-education-needed kids show gratitude to their classmates, teachers and us. No matter how challenging the work is, it is worthy when I witness the change among students.”
“It was an impressive experience to see how powerful collaboration between different disciplines can be. I was amazed to see how seemingly unrelated business and education sectors could work jointly to empower the less-privileged students.”
“Most importantly, we get to know a school principal who truly loves and cares her students and treats them as if they were her sons and daughters. Her work and sharing inspired and encouraged me a lot.”