Everymind is conducting two projects which will develop, deliver, and research professional development approaches that build the capacity of early childhood educators and primary school teachers to contribute to the prevention of anxiety and depression.

Connections Online

The current research project seeks to build the capacity and confidence of early childhood educators to promote the positive mental health and wellbeing of children, and prevent the development of anxiety and depression. This project will specifically focus on family day care (FDC) educators and the role they have in supporting children’s mental health:

Positive mental health in early childhood is critical for children’s wellbeing and development in the present, and it also has important implications for their future.

Children who are supported in their mental health and wellbeing in early childhood have a strong foundation for developing the skills, values and behaviours they need to experience positive physical and mental health as an adult.

Early childhood educators play an important role in the lives of the children who attend their service.

By creating trusting relationships with children, with a supportive environment that provides diverse learning experiences, educators can help children develop a positive sense of self and learn key social and emotional skills to build on in the future (Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, 2016).

Educators must be supported to foster positive mental health and wellbeing in children.

In order to support children’s development, mental health and wellbeing, educators need to develop particular knowledge, skills and practices. These practices relate to maintaining key partnerships with families and other professionals, engaging in professional practice related to mental health, creating positive environments, supporting children’s social and emotional development, and providing early intervention for mental ill-health.

Program for Family Day Carers

A self-paced online training program will be created based on the hard copy resource, Connections: A resource for early childhood educators on children’s wellbeing. The new online program will outline the knowledge, skills and practices needed by educators to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and be evaluated through a randomised control trial.

In addition to the online training program, the research project will investigate the mental health and wellbeing of FDC educators themselves, and examine how mental health shapes their interactions with the children attending their service. This is expected to highlight current strengths within the workforce and identify opportunities to improve support for self-care practice and professional development.

Building the Capacity of Primary School Teachers to Respond to Anxiety in their Students

The purpose of this project is to build capacity in primary school teacher’s confidence and understanding in relation to excessive anxiety in their students.

Excessive levels of anxiety is a worryingly common issue affecting children. If not treated it can impact on their social, academic, and family life and lead to a greater risk of developing mental ill-health later in life.

To ensure this project is fit for propose it will be conducted in two stages, each with its own overarching goal:

Stage one - Scoping: Gather information to better understand the enablers and barriers to building capacity in primary school teachers in regards to recognising, managing, and referring students who need assistance with anxiety. Specifically:

  • Teacher’s attitudes towards students with excessive anxiety.
  • Teachers perceived personal abilities, and general system wide abilities, to address issues with students with excessive anxiety.
  • Teacher’s current level of knowledge around the prevention, identification, management, and referral pathways for anxiety. \
  • School leadership’s attitudes toward staff development in mental health.
  • Teacher’s perceptions around their needs and roles in student’s mental health.
  • Teachers preferred methods of professional development delivery.

Stage two - Intervention: Build and deliver a fit for propose initiative using the evidence-base gathered in stage one.

Expected long-term outcome
The impact of this project is potentially enormous, with the intervention being rolled out nationally to schools. By building capacity in primary school teachers to reduce the gaps in care for excessively anxious students, at need children will receive the support they need to achieve their full potential, as a member of society and as an individual.

Principle researchers