December 5 2019

Mental Health in Primary Schools

By The Ian Potter Foundation

Three school aged children wearing uniforms and backpacks
Image courtesy of MCRI
Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI)
Mental Health in Primary Schools (MHiPS)
$500,000 (2020) + $500,000 (2021)
2 years

In December 2019, the Foundation awarded a major grant of $500,000 supporting a pilot program led by MCRI - in partnership with the Victorian Department of Education and Training and the Melbourne Graduate School of Education - to design, develop, implement and evaluate a primary school step-tiered, system-level approach to child mental health.

With the onset of the pandemic in 2020, the Foundation awarded a further $500,000 in December 2020 (FY21) to enable a second year of the Mental Health in Primary Schools (MHiPs) Pilot and the evaluation of the implementation and impact of the expanded MHiPS program. The MHiPS model is based around training and integrating Mental Health and Wellbeing Coordinators (MHWC) in primary schools to build the capacity of schools to support student mental health and wellbeing.

Implementation of the pilot to date was evaluated through a survey of all participating schools in July and August 2021. A total of 489 schools and teaching staff across 26 pilot schools in Victoria participated. over 95% of school staff agreed that implementation of the MHWC model had increased the confidence of classroom teachers and had increased the school's capacity to support student mental health.

Given these promising results, The Royal Commission into Victoria's Mental Health System recommended that the MHiPS program be further evaluated, with the view to further statewide roll-out. The Department of Education is now funding the next expansion and evaluation phase of the MHiPS program, which will see MHiPS expand to 100 schools across Victoria in 2022.