One of the biggest threats to a good start in life, and a concern
for many parents, is the uptake of risk-taking behaviours like smoking,
drinking and drug use.
Up to 53 per cent of young people under the age of 18 in the
Hunter New England Region use tobacco and alcohol which can lead to
lifelong health problems.
Researchers at the University of Newcastle believe the mental
well-being of young people is linked to the early uptake of risk-taking
behaviours and are testing the effectiveness of a resilience focused
intervention to reduce such behaviours.
The Healthy Schools, Healthy Futures Program, a joint
initiative of Hunter Medical Research Institute and University of
Newcastle, aims to reduce the number of adolescents who smoke, use
alcohol or illicit drugs by increasing resilience and mental wellbeing.
More than 14,000 students from 21 local high schools are
participating in this four year research project. Baseline surveys are
benchmarking current behaviours and guiding the development of
The program involves implementing student wellbeing strategies
into school curriculums, additional teacher training and the fostering
of partnerships with local service providers.
During 2012 and 2013 Healthy Schools Healthy Futures School
Project Officers have worked closely with each school to develop their
capacity to address student resilience through planning and implementing
strategies customised to the unique needs of each school.
Increasing the resilience of students is being addressed across
many aspects of school life including whole school activities, classroom
teaching and learning, enhancing peer support, mentoring and
leaderships programs, teacher training and development, hosting parent
forums, partnering with community service organisations, .
The interventions focus on social skills that build resilience,
including self-efficacy, empathy, problem solving, self-awareness, goal
setting, communication and cooperation.
The final data collection and results of the study will be completed during 2014.
"The program is empowering students to take control of the
improvement of culture within the school. They never cease to amaze me
as they step into leadership roles and perform at an exceptional level."
- Robyn Leggatt, Relieving Principal, Swansea High School
"It is clear that adolescents do not like being told no, so rather
than saying don't do drugs, don't drink and don't smoke, the study
focuses on building decision-making skills that will lead them to make
the right choices about those behaviours."
- John Wiggers, Associate Professor, HMRI Research Team
More Info: www.hmri.com.au