Sydney Morning Herald

Hi once again!

It’s been a long time between posts… You’ll have to forgive me! I’ve been pretty busy lately looking after my little bubba who is nearly 8 months old already! I’ve been putting every spare second I have into getting my novel Awakening Sebastian ready for print and my Gatekeeper Training Modules for teachers ready to go. I’m really excited about both of these projects as a follow on from my research in 2013.

I was interviewed a few weeks ago by the Sydney Morning Herald and the article was published this morning. If you’re interested in having a read please do so 🙂 I’ve included it in this blog. Stay tuned for more information on my upcoming projects.

Schools urged to promote wellbeing.  Newspaper article headline
Schools urged to promote wellbeing.
Newspaper article headline
Newspaper article on Donna Redman
Newspaper article on Donna Redman

Schools urged to promote wellbeing

Fostering mental health in students is seen as crucial, Kristie Kellahan writes.

Donna Redman, a teacher at John Therry Catholic High School in Rosemeadow, says students will learn best in an environment where they feel supported and cared for. She says schools need to focus on promoting  positive mental strategies.

Redman, who is currently on maternity leave, teaches English and Studies of Religion, but says her key role is as the pastoral care co-ordinator at the school.

“My role is to promote the mental health and wellbeing of the students, as well as supporting them as integral members of the school community,” she says.

One of the biggest challenges facing teenagers – and those who care about them – is depression and the risk of suicide. In 2013 Redman was granted a NSW Premier’s Teachers Scholarship, endorsed by the Anika Foundation, to raise awareness of youth depression. Redman used the $15,000 scholarship funds to take an international study tour to research the integration of proactive strategies in schools for the prevention of youth suicide and depression in young people.

In September 2013 Redman travelled to schools and conferences in Dubai, London and Los Angeles. “I wanted to learn what schools overseas were doing,” she says. She attended the IASP World Congress for the Prevention of Suicide in Oslo, and the International Youth Mental Health Conference in Brighton, England, to gather cutting-edge global information. She visited wellbeing centres and met with several experts in the area of youth suicide prevention.

“The tour reinforced my understanding that the most important responsibility of every school is to promote the mental health and wellbeing of each student in their care.”

She says it’s vital that schools have clear procedures for intervention and post-vention in the tragic circumstances where young people take their own lives. She visited a school in LA where suicides had occurred and learnt about the importance of having clear plans and procedures to support the whole school community, to minimise “contagion” and to provide the appropriate professional support.

“One of the things that surprised me, particularly at the conferences I attended, was the lack of teachers present,” she says. “I think it’s important that teachers are included in the conversations taking place about how we, as a society, can prevent suicide in young people.”

Redman has blogged her findings at awakenempowerment.wordpress.com, is active on Twitter (@donnaredman01), and has developed a training module on youth suicide prevention for teachers. She has also written a young adult fiction novel, Awakening Sebastian, which will be launched this month. “The novel is centred around the issue of youth suicide,” Redman says. “I have put together teaching resources to go along with the text and my hope is that it can be used as a tool in schools to promote positive mental health and suicide prevention.”

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