Education: Schools urged to promote well-being to prevent suicide

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Educator Donna Redman has participated in international conferences to learn more about youth suicide prevention.
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Educator Donna Redman has participated in international conferences to learn more about youth suicide prevention.

Educator Donna Redman has participated in international conferences to learn more about youth suicide prevention.

Educator Donna Redman has participated in international conferences to learn more about youth suicide prevention.

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 well-being 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.

Redman attended the IASP World Congress for the Prevention of Suicide in Oslo, Norway and the International Youth Mental Health Conference in Brighton, England to gather cutting-edge global information. She visited well-being 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 well-being of each student in their care,” she says.

Redman 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 for all affected.

“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 really important that teachers are included in conversations taking place about how we, as a society, can prevent suicide in young people.”

Redman kept a blog of her findings awakenempowerment.wordpress苏州美甲美睫培训学校, is active on Twitter (@donnaredman01), has delivered the keynote address at a conference in the Wollongong diocese 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 published and 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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