MindMatters in Minutes. Getting Started.

So you want to implement MindMatters in your school?

Good call! But how do you start?

One option is individual action. This is all good, because MindMatters can make a big difference to individual practice.

However, you can create an even bigger impact by engaging staff at every level in a shared strategy.

There are three ingredients for a successful whole school approach of this sort.

First is support from executive leadership.

Having the approval and interest of the principal and deputies tells everyone that this is worth the investment of their time and effort.

The second key ingredient is an action team who can define and drive the strategy.

Ideally the action team is made up of a diverse group of staff, as well as other members of the school community, so that many points of view are represented, and that there are lines of communication into different parts of the school.

An effective action team will probably be intensely excited and want to jump straight into solving problems big and small.
However it can be better to take a step back and examine the third key ingredient, which is data.

Remember, data can be gathered in lots of ways so take time to plan.

This data can come from all sorts of sources, including school performance data, behaviour management records, conversations with the community and surveys.

By reviewing the school’s current data, the action team can choose a focus area and make a plan that is appropriate for your school.

This not only includes ideas about what actions to take within the school, but also how to inspire the rest of the school community so that everyone wants to join in.

Once you have a plan you have to execute it, which may take a certain amount of patience and perseverance.

It’s hard to say how long it takes for a mental health strategy to have an impact.

Some changes can have immediate effects—for instance staff smiling more at students— but others may take months to percolate through the whole school or become significant enough to measure. It all depends on your particular focus, the nature of your plan and the degree to which your initiatives are embraced by staff and students.

For this reason it’s best if the action team and the school’s executive have regular reviews of the plan and its impacts.

Ideally this review process confirms if your actions are on track and gathers new data, which can be compared to old data.

Based on the results of each review cycle, the action team, now hardy and seasoned like pirates, can adjust its plan as needed to chart the best course towards improved mental health.

So what’s your school approach? All for one and one for all?

How do you get the leadership on board?

How could you create a diverse action team?

And how can you get the data to make sure you are going in the right direction?