We are now halfway through the year- long, Kahui Ako pilot.
At Hagley I meet with students requesting counselling or by referral when there are suspected mental health concerns. Following assessment, the student can be referred to school counselling, or to outside agencies. At Ao Tahwiti students are referred when there are concerns identified by staff/whanau or the student requests assessment. As we know mental health difficulties impact on relationships therefore liaison with families and staff around school support is important.
At both schools I sometimes assess students where there is significant absenteeism , young people who are trapped in the anxiety avoidance cycle where it is safer to stay home than face percieved or actual difficulties at school.
Its important to emphasise that avoidance worsens anxiety, known as the vicious cycle of anxiety. Staying at home helps in the short term but over time anxiety worsens and any exposure to the triggers feels intolerable. Re-engagement can occur with mental health support, whānau participation and most importantly student participation. It requires the student to actively particpate in their mental health recovery by exercising, having adequate nutrition and refreshing sleep ( including staying off devices late at night!) Daily structure and having purpose is also key to mental wellness and for life beyond school.
At Ao Tawhiti we are planning a parents evening on anxiety in Term Three, which we will also look at hosting at Hagley later in the year.