SYDNEY, March 8 (Xinhua) — Primary school students across the Australian State of New South Wales (NSW) will soon have access to new classes aimed to help them deal with mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and bullying.
Announcing the Smiling Minds School Mindfulness Program on Friday in partnership with charitable group the Buildcorp Foundation, Education Minister Rob Stokes said the initiative will be vitally important for children growing up in the digital age.
“We can’t slow down the pace of technological change, but we can ensure that students have the coping mechanisms and resilience needed to thrive in the modern world,” he said.
“Clinical research shows us that mindfulness leads to reduced stress, anxiety and depression, not to mention better academic skills, social skills and self-esteem,” he said.
Preferencing schools in the most rural and remote area, the roll out of the program is set to reach about 100,000 students aged between 5-12, in 400 public primary schools across the state.
As part of the initiative, over 8,000 teachers will also be trained to assist children who may appear vulnerable and in need of help.
“One of the key benefits of the program is the development of emotional awareness and self-regulation skills so that students are better able to manage life’s challenges and build healthy and connected relationships,” Smiling Mind CEO Dr. Addie Wootten said.
“One in seven primary-aged children are experiencing mental health problems, which is why it’s vital we focus on preventative measures and adopt a holistic approach to mental health and wellness,” Wootten said.
“This will help support the creation of vibrant and thriving generations of future Australians,” Wootten added.