Schools Mental Health Menu – 3 tiers of supports
The Schools Mental Health Menu (the Menu) includes programs, staff and resources across the 3 tiers of support. All Menu items were externally assessed for how well they support student mental health and wellbeing, ensuring schools have access to a range of options to meet their needs.
There are 3 tiers of support:
- Tier 1: Positive mental health promotion
- Tier 2: Early intervention and cohort specific support
- Tier 3: Targeted support
A strong and sustained focus by schools on Tier 1 is encouraged to promote student wellbeing actively and to reduce risk factors that lead to poor mental health.
When delivered early enough, universal prevention programs can prevent the onset of mental ill-health by helping to establish protective factors. This includes developing coping skills in young people, improving emotional regulation processes and contributing to creating a more positive, inclusive and supportive school environment. This can minimise social risks for mental ill-health, such as bullying or poor teacher-student relationships.
Since even small effects of universal programs can produce life-long outcomes, improvements and significant real-world impact, there is a strong argument in favour of these programs (Orygen Evidence Summary: A review of secondary school-based mental health prevention ).
As well as increasing a person's opportunity and choices in life, promoting mental health and wellbeing as a core role in education helps students:
- flourish in their learner journey
- build resilience against adversity
- develop protective factors against mental ill-health
- gain the skills and confidence to self-seek help for early intervention.
Tier 1: Positive mental health promotion
Universal interventions to help schools to create a positive, inclusive and supportive school climate, building the preconditions for optimal student learning, development and wellbeing.
Tier 1 includes the following.
Whole-school approach to positive mental health
Programs, training and resources that target the whole school (leaders, teachers, staff, students, parents and carers) to embed safe, positive school cultures and learning environments.
Social and emotional learning
Programs, training and resources designed to support delivery of the Victorian Curriculum F–10 and to assist students to gain the knowledge and skills needed to understand and regulate their emotions, behaviour and relationships with others and build resilience effectively.
Wellbeing animal programs
Programs, training and resources that use wellbeing animals to improve student mental health and wellbeing.
Mental health literacy
Programs, training and resources focused on:
- understanding mental health and associated risk/protective factors
- recognising, managing and preventing mental ill health encouraging help seeking behaviours
- building staff capability to notice when students may be showing signs of mental health issues.
Eating disorders support
Programs, training and resources that support students to develop a positive body image, healthy attitude and behaviours towards the body, eating and physical activity and encourage help seeking.
Alcohol and drug education
Programs, training and resources to support schools to provide students with effective alcohol and drug education.
Programs, training and resources designed to identify, address and prevent all forms of bullying.
Local community-led mental health interventions
Place-based initiatives and partnerships with local organisations designed to support positive mental health.
Programs, training and resources focused on equipping students with strategies, skills and tools to provide safe and appropriate support to peers. These programs increase students understanding of mental health, destigmatise mental health and promote help seeking. See the Peer support fact sheet for schools for more information.
Tier 2: Early intervention/cohort specific
Early interventions and those for specific cohorts of students complement universal interventions and provide essential additional support for students with specific needs or vulnerabilities.
Tier 2 includes the following.
Programs and interventions delivered by professionals for groups of students that reduce the impact of mild mental health problems.
Trauma informed programs
Programs and interventions designed to raise awareness, provide management tools or tailored support for students who have experienced trauma or adverse life experiences.
Disaster, grief and loss programs
Programs and interventions designed to raise awareness, provide management tools or tailored support for students who have adverse life experiences including natural disasters, grief and loss.
Support for diverse cohorts
Programs and interventions designed to improve cultural safety and inclusion, and address racism and discrimination for students, including Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and gender diverse, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ+) students, students from refugee backgrounds and students with disability.
Tier 3: Targeted support
Interventions for individuals or small groups of students with emerging or diagnosed mental health needs or students experiencing mental ill health. These must be delivered by a trained mental health and wellbeing professional, such as a psychologist, social worker or occupational therapist in a school or community setting. Interventions can be offered in person, online, by phone or hybrid (a combination of virtual and in-person modes). A full list of mental health and wellbeing professionals that schools can purchase are in the Skills checklist.
Reviewed 03 May 2023