We know how challenging it can be to support students' mental wellbeing after a traumatic event like Cyclone Gabrielle. Recent flooding and the cyclone have affected Auckland, Hawke's Bay, Gisborne, Bay of Plenty, Coromandel, and Northland, leaving students and their families in distress.
The Education Gazette has called on GoodSpace Schools to support the development of a strategic toolkit that schools can use to identify students in need and support the care response following Cyclone Gabrielle. We are happy to be able to support with educational webinars and screening tools to identify student needs and plan the care response.
Schools play a crucial role in supporting their communities after such events, but it's also essential for school staff to look after themselves and their families first to prevent burnout. According to psychologist Dr Mary Miller, everyone has been affected by these disasters, and it's normal to have a strong emotional response. Teachers and other school staff need to prioritise their own wellbeing to be better equipped to offer support to their students.
Dr Subha Rajanaidu says “Most students who are in distress currently are experiencing an appropriate response to trauma and need to be wrapped with care and support from their whānau and community."
Most will recover through resilience, but for those experiencing a severe or ongoing response, they may need more support. Identifying those students that need extra support is where GoodSpace Schools can help, because it is not always obvious.
At GoodSpace Schools we provide a digital screening and prioritisation platform that enables schools to take a proactive approach to student wellbeing. The platform was piloted in 2021 and was used to screen more than 10,000 students at 89 schools in 2022 to assess their mental wellbeing. Set up by Dr. Stuart Jenkins, Dr. Subha Rajanaidu, Kate Rhind, and Sanjeewa Samaraweera, who all share a concern about mental health in young people and youth suicide rates snd are working towards this by supporting schools to have effective and equitable ways of coordinating student wellbeing resources.
With our digital screening platform, schools can use a whole-school approach to support their students' mental wellbeing. Students complete a quick online survey, and in real-time any issues of concern are immediately identified and grouped by risk for school wellbeing or pastoral teams. Schools can follow up with students with potential safeguarding risks quickly while grouping lower risk students for a strategic support approach.
Schools are in a unique position to support students and communities in the aftermath of disasters like the recent flooding and Cyclone Gabrielle. By creating a supportive environment where students feel safe and able to express their feelings, providing practical assistance to students and their families, and promoting resilience in the aftermath by teaching students coping skills schools can make a real impact in supporting their students.