Story

Lifeline Canberra supports school students mental health

Posted on 7 July 2021

ChildrenMental HealthYouth

Lifeline Canberra has developed a training program to run throughout schools in Canberra; students are trained and mentored as LIFEY LEADERS - which promote the skills and confidence to support a more mentally healthy school community.

Lifeline Canberra has developed a training program to run throughout schools in Canberra; students are trained and mentored as LIFEY LEADERS – which promote the skills and confidence to support a more mentally healthy school community.

One main objective is to inspire student mental health responsibility through ongoing peer conversations and collective action. In addition, the initiative is creating school yard cultures where mental fitness becomes just as important as reading, writing and playing sport.

The LIFEY LEADERSHIP PROGRAM will focus on

  • Leadership skills and what it is like to be a leader in a school community
  • Recognising the signs and indicators that another student needs help
  • How to start that conversation and link the person to an adult
  • Communication skills – listening, body language, showing you understand.
  • Awareness of how I’m feeling, what I’m doing to look after myself and whether I need help

The Lifey Program also offers ongoing mentorship and support for students and staff throughout the school year to build a culture of ongoing acceptance, conversation and connection.

Year 6 Teacher

With devices so readily available for children and the ease in which they can communicate with peers, it is no wonder that an increasing number of children are more likely to chat with their friends rather than the adults around them. Unfortunately, this practice has left the door open for children preferring to turn to their peers during times of uncertainty and emotional unrest rather than parents, teachers and professionals.

In light of this overwhelming reality, we were thrilled when offered a once in lifetime opportunity to work alongside Lifeline Canberra, fittingly titled ‘Lifeys’.

Having successfully applied and completed their initial training, our School is proud to introduce our new ‘Lifeys’. These 16 students received training, guidance and support from two of Lifelines most qualified individuals, Mark and Mandy. Two exceptional individuals who step up to deal with other people’s challenges, when others can’t.  You couldn’t ask for two more inspiring and highly competent instructors, dedicated to their job and now willingly passing on their knowledge and skills to our students.

What a powerful two days! The course was realistic, inspiring, and yet, at times, confronting. Illustrating the vulnerability within each of us and reassuring us that we all have problems and that it is OK.  And finally, to provide a platform for the students to build a trustworthy team, who embrace unity, strength and a passion, to help support others. Our ‘Lifeys’ are “FROTHING,” and extremely keen to apply their newly acquired skills, by helping to support other students who may be experiencing challenging times. What a privilege it has been to work alongside these two incredible people, Mark and Mandy from Lifeline Canberra. From all of us, a heartfelt thank you to Lifeline Canberra for their innovation around creating the Lifey program.

Teacher testimonial:

“My students felt so privileged to have taken part in the Lifeys Leadership Program. They take the role very seriously and value the gravity of their position. I have seen an improvement in focus, maturity and resilience from each of the students who participated in the program and have also witnessed the ripple effect that has come from others witnessing the Lifeys reaching out to their peers. I am so excited to have Lifeline Canberra working with our vulnerable pre-teens at this turbulent time of transition to high school and hope to continue this important program well into the future.”

Lifeys student testimonials 

Student 1,

After training, I’ve felt more connected to the Lifey squad and more confident with speaking to people that I don’t know well. I believe that being a Lifey is a very honourable privilege that allows you to have the ability to potentially save someone’s life. I am also very grateful for Lifeline for reaching out to our school and having us being the first Lifey squad in Australia. I believe that in the future, we will be able to help people with even more problems. – Chris, Year 6 student, Garran Primary School

Student 2,

Being a Lifey and talking to Mark and Mandy was a highlight of this year for me. I also understand what it’s like to help people in situations and how to help them as well. This is a useful skill in present life and also high school and beyond that. As a Lifey, I feel ready and comfortable in my role, and I look forward to being able to help people in need. Already I have helped 3 people feel better about something that they have done! I feel ready to continue as a Lifey even if we don’t have any more proper lessons.

I am also thankful for this opportunity as this is a once in a lifetime experience for everyone.

Some skills that I have found useful from the Lifey programme are:

  • Being grateful for what I have (this is by just meditating for 5 minutes in the evening or writing it down in my diary)
  • Knowing not to fix people but just support them in their situation
  • The: “It sounds like you may be feeling ______ in this situation.” strategy instead of saying “You are ___ about this.”
  • Mainly just having a whole group of people who I can trust, and who I know I can go to if I need any help or assistance.

Overall, I am very much looking forward to putting this into practice and I am very grateful to have had this opportunity of being a Lifey!

The program has been successfully rolled out across a number of Canberra schools both in the private and public sector and we care currently evaluating and improving the content and the delivery model to make it even more accessible across the wider ACT schools system.