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C3 Module 3.1

Meeting parents’ information needs

Before You Begin

Think about the conversations you’ve had with parents at your school. What do they typically want to know about mental health?

Schools can be a source of support for parents and carers who are looking for information on youth development and mental health.

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Parents, carers and families play a significant role in the lives of young people – how does your school engage with these groups?

Family is important for student mental health and wellbeing

Family is important to the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people. Research shows that young people who experience a nurturing environment and are provided with emotional, social and physical support are most likely to experience positive wellbeing and reach their full potential.

The parenting role can be considered to serve a number of purposes, including:
  • providing children and young people with basic care
  • protecting them from harm
  • loving and nurturing them
  • helping them to develop the skills they will need to participate fully in society as adults.

Parenting can be challenging

The transition to adolescence involves significant changes for young people as well as their parents and carers. New parenting demands require parents and carers to adapt their parenting. Many parents and carers are able to do this well, but for some the young person’s striving for autonomy can be seen as disobedience or rejection.

Parents of teenagers can therefore look for support on a vast range of topic areas, particularly topics that relate to the changes associated with puberty and their changing relationship, such as:
  • adolescent behaviours
  • family relationships
  • worries related to parenting

    School is a source of information and support for parents

    Schools play a prominent role in Australian communities and have significant reach. Given this prominence and the relationships they develop with parents, schools are well placed to facilitate access to information and services that can support students, parents and families. Parents may not be linked to other institutions in the community, so could look to the school for support to find and use these institutions or connect with other parents.

    Have a communication strategy

    A communication strategy can help ensure that adequate supports are in place for families. When developing a communication strategy, schools should consider proactive and reactive school responses to parenting needs. This can include use of existing school events to incorporate support for parents, particularly around transition points when parents’ needs may be greater, and/or they may be more receptive to the information and support provided.

    Planning considerations:
    • Review current levels of engagement
    • Consider school community demographics
    • Consider school community cultural and linguistic needs

    How do you suggest your school improves communication with parents about mental health?

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