“Time to Reflect”: Enhancing the self-efficacy of secondary school wellbeing personnel in recognising and responding to mental health needs of students
Keywords:mental health, school wellbeing, professional development, reflective practice
Abstract“Time to Reflect” (TTR) is an innovative five-session professional development program for secondary school wellbeing personnel working with students between the ages of 12 and 18. TTR is jointly designed and delivered by an educational and a youth mental health specialist service. The program provides education on a range of mental health related topics and offers participants an opportunity to reflect on their current practices. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate whether the TTR program increases perceived competence and confidence of participants in recognising and responding to the mental health needs of students. The secondary aim was to assess changes in the use of reflection and its perceived benefits for professional practice. Participants completed a self-assessment questionnaire at three time points: prior to the first session, after the final session, and three months after completion of the program. One hundred and thirty-five school wellbeing personnel from a variety of state, independent, and Catholic secondary schools participated. Following completion of the program, participants reported significantly greater confidence and competence in helping students with mental health problems, with this level of change being maintained at the three-month post-training assessment. The majority of participants reported positive changes in their use of reflection, and consequent benefits to their professional practice. The findings from this study suggest that the TTR program promoted the self-efficacy of participants in responding to the mental health needs of students, and that regular reflective practice may be an effective and beneficial model for continued professional learning and development in schools.
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