To advocate is to speak or act in support of or in defence of somebody, a community, or a cause.

Mental health in schools

Increased mental health awareness, support and education in schools has been a consistent issue raised by Victorian students at Congress. VicSRC provided a submission to the 2019 Royal Commission into Mental Health based on what students had said over the years.

The Royal Commission into Mental Health report tabled in 2021 captured some of the key themes students had raised including the importance of schools providing effective support for students by having more mental health practitioners, different levels of support to target different needs and training for students to provide peer support.

Check out some wins for student mental health in the last couple of years below.

✔️ Mental health practitioners in all government and low-fee non-government schools
✔️Therapy dogs
✔️Teen Mental Health First Aid
✔️Youth Mental Health First Aid
✔️Youth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health First Aid
✔️Safe Schools

A graphic facilitation from a previous VicSRC Congress covering the issues and solutions of Mental Health Education.
We believe that schools should provide an environment and system that addresses both causes and impacts of anxiety and other mental health problems that affect students.”
Building companionship to conquer anxiety Action Team, Congress 2019

Recent advocacy

After hearing the concerns and experiences of students across the state during and after the extended 2020 lockdowns and remote learning periods, VicSRC Student Executive Advisory Committee declared a mental health crisis in mid 2021.

VicSRC advocated for stronger student voice in education decision-making through 2021 as further lockdowns and school closures began to disrupt school and home life for students across the state. We took our concerns and suggested solutions to the Minister for Education which included:

  • prioritising mental health and wellbeing at school

  • no questions asked mental health days

  • limits on how many school based assessments for VCE studies could be set per week

  • no homework set during school holidays so students have a break

Learn more about our advocacy during COVID.

A screenshot of a story in the Age featuring the headline 'Students seek 'no-questions-asked' mental health days to ease COVID-19 stress.

What’s happening now?

At the end of 2021, the Minister for Education announced an updated Victorian Framework for Improving Student Outcomes that elevated mental health and wellbeing as equally important to students as learning, as well as strengthening the understanding of partnership between educators and students in all school decision making.

VicSRC continues to work to keep up to date with how students are feeling about mental health support at schools and communicate this to decision-makers to improve how schools prioritise mental health and wellbeing.

What does this mean for students?

Get informed about what your school could have available for mental health support for students with the Schools Mental Health Menu.