Student Wellbeing

What is mental health?

Student health and well-being is fundamental to us at Geraldton Grammar School. Mental Health is defined at Geraldton Grammar School as a continuum, ranging from having good mental health to having mental illness. A person will vary in their position along this continuum at different points in their life. A young person with good mental health will feel in control of their emotions, have good cognitive functioning and positive interactions with their peers, parents and teachers. This state allows a young person to perform well in their studies and in family and other social relationships (Kelly et al, 2016).

What are mental health problems?

A variety of terms are used to describe mental health problems: mental illness, serious emotional disorder, extreme emotional distress, psychiatric illness, mental breakdown and burnout. The slang terms include: crazy, freak, psycho, mad, nuts and wacko. These terms promote stigmatising attitudes and should not be used.

There are different types of mental illness, some of which are very common, such as depression and anxiety disorders, and some are not so common, such as schizophrenia and anorexia nervosa.

How common are mental health issues in children and adolescents?

The 2015 report on Mental Health of Australian Children and Adolescents (future referenced as ‘the report”) reports that almost one in seven (13.9%) 4-17 year-olds were assessed as having mental disorders in 2014. This equates to 3 to 4 students on average per class. Mental health issues are common and there should be no stigma attached to prevention programs, early intervention strategies or treatment programs.


At Geraldton Grammar School programs are delivered during both our pastoral care programs (INSPIRE in primary and Personal Development Program in secondary school) as well as the Health and Physical Education program. These programs combine with our positive school culture to provide a supportive environment to build resilience. Our parents are key partners in support our school programs. The School Wellbeing Officer is providing CBT(Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) based modules in co-operation with the year 8 Health Department as well as engaging with the Year 8 Personal Development Program to hear about their concerns and suggestions regarding student wellbeing. She is also introducing Mindfulness session during lunch for students who wish to attend. Modules on Test Anxiety and Cyber bullying are also available to the school body as requested

Early Intervention

The Report notes that just over one quarter (26.8%) of parents and carers reported that their child or adolescent needed help for emotional or behavioural problems in the previous 12 months. The Report also noted that a school staff member was among those to suggest that some help for emotional or behavioural problems was needed in two fifths (40.5%) of cases. The classroom teacher or the Homegroup teacher together with the Head of School are the most direct channels to look for support, however, any teaching staff member can be approached to provide support.


It should be noted that across Australia just over one fifth (22.6%) of young people who used health services had been referred by their school.



At Geraldton Grammar School, we have a Student Referral Protocol that provides a reference for our staff to take action to support our children and adolescents with respect to student mental health and wellbeing issues. The overarching principle is the acknowledgement many students require support due to circumstances in their life and that school staff should not work beyond their professional expertise regarding student mental health issues. The school, at all stages in the Student Referral Protocol will support the actions of the relevant health care professionals, parents and the needs of the individual student. This may include support in implementing a Care, Treatment and Personal Management Plan in consultation with the student, referring body, parent and other school staff.


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School In-House Action

Referral to:

Professional Psychological Assessment

(AISWA Psychological Services)

Referral to:

Student Wellbeing Officer (99657808)

Headspace (99438111)

Helping Minds (99644688)

Centacare (99211433)

360 Health (99606800)

or another agency

Referral to:

General Practitioner


Mental Health Professional

Referral to:

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) at Central West Mental Health Service) (99561999)

Referral to:

Child Protection and Mandatory Reporting Organisations

Decision Making:

Head of School

Student Wellbeing Officer

Deputy Principal




School Action:

Student, Parent or 3-way meetings




Examples include:

Minor behavioural issues


Study anxiety 

Student mediation

Decision Making:

Head of School

Deputy Principal


Inclusive Education Teacher 


School Action:

Meeting, telephone call and /or written request to parent for Professional Psychological Assessment


Examples include:

Poor academic performance based suspected student need – assessment for special needs/ascertainment

Learning Support

Assessment for Special Provisions

Decision Making:

Head of School

Deputy Principal

Student Wellbeing Officer



School Action:

Meeting, telephone call and/or written request to parent for recommending to Student Wellbeing Officer, Headspace, Helping Minds, Centacare, 360 Health Centre or another agency.


Examples include:

Friendship issues

School anxiety


Continued bullying behaviours that are unresolved after School In-House Action

Unresolved Behavioural Issues

Decision Making:

Head of School or Student Wellbeing Officer (in consultation with the Deputy Principal and Principal)


School Action:

Meeting or telephone call and written request to parent for referral to GP

Continued counselling may be required.


Examples include:

Suspected eating disorders

Suspected anxiety disorders


Obsessive Thinking

Compulsive Routines

Traumatic Event

Drug or Alcohol Issues

Decision Making:

Head of School or Student Wellbeing Officer (in consultation with the Deputy Principal and Principal)


 School Action:

Meeting, telephone call and written request to parent for referral to CAMHS.

Request for communication between CAMHS and the School



Examples include:

Major Depression

Risk of Harm to Others

High Anxiety



Self Harm

Decision Making:

Teacher and/or The Principal


School Action:

The Principal reports: Reportable Physical, Emotional/Psychological Abuse and Neglect to the Central Duty Team at Child Protection and Family Support 9965 9500

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The Teacher reports Sexual Abuse to the Department of Child Protection and Family Support Mandatory Reporting Service

1800 708 704


Note: Refer to Child Protection Policy.



Treatment and support

There is no “one size fits all” approach to mental health services.  There are many different types of treatment and supports that can help child and adolescents with their mental health issues.

Helpful Resources and Contacts

The following information has been sourced and reviewed by a year 9 Personal Development Program class. The students have highlighted the supportive structures at school, online and locally that would pertain to secondary school students. They have also identified key areas of mental illness that they perceive as common issues that children and adolescents experience. This work was completed in 2016. Students have also noted the Student Wellbeing Hub as an online resource for student wellbeing and online safety.

What is depression?

Depression is not “blue or sad” days. It is a mood disorder that lasts for at least two weeks. The rate of depression was slightly higher in females (3.1% compared with 2.5% in males) in the 4 to 17 year old age bracket according to The Report.
Depression symptoms include the following: lack of energy, feeling worthless, thinking about death, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, having difficulty with sleep, loss of interest in food or eating too much.

What is anxiety?

Everybody experiences anxiety at some time. When people describe their anxiety, they may use terms such as: anxious, stressed, wound up, nervous, on edge, worried, tense or hassled. Anxiety can vary in severity from mild uneasiness through to a terrifying panic attack. Anxiety disorders differ from regular anxiety in the following ways:
It is more severe
It is long lasting
It interferes with a person’s studies, other activities and family and social relationships.
The Report indicates that 7% 4 to 17 year olds will have an anxiety disorder.

Helpful Resources for Young People (aged 12 to 18 years)

At School:

Classroom teacher or homegroup teacher or Head of School - initial discussion and then referral to School Wellbeing Officer outside agencies.
Many of our teachers have Youth Mental Health First Aid training.

School Wellbeing Officer, Mrs Lara Watson has an office in the school library. She can be contacted on 9965 7080 or emailed at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Local Services (in Geraldton):

Helping Minds and Headspace (self-referral, free and confidential)

Online Services or Apps:

Mood Gym -
Lifeline -
Youth Beyond Blue -'s-going-on/anxiety
eHeadspace -
Kids Helpline -

Apps on the ipad:

Self-help for Anxiety Management

Telephone Services:

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800

What are eating disorders?

Eating disorders are not just about food, weight, appearance or will power but are serious and potentially life threatening illnesses.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) recognises four eating disorders: Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder and Other Specified Feeding and Eating Disorders.
In Australians aged 11-24 approximately 28% of males are dissatisfied with their appearance compared to 35% in females. This dissatisfaction together with other factors such as depression and anxiety may trigger an eating disorder. This issue, however, is complex and requires support from professionals and family members.

What is psychosis?

Psychosis is a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. This disorder is less common than other mental illness, affecting around 0.45% of people. This mental disorder includes schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, psychotic depression, schizoaffective disorder and drug-induced psychosis.


Kelly, C., Kitchener, B., & Jorm, A. Youth mental health first aid. Mental Health First Aid Australia. Parkville, Victoria. Reprint 2016.

The Department of Health. (2015). The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents - Report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. [online] Available at:$File/child2.pdf  [Accessed 6 September 2016].

Filename Size Date
An Adobe Acrobat file Student Referral Protocol 2018 145.9 KB 2018-05-15

134 George Rd Geraldton, Western Australia
ph: (08)9965 7800 fax: (08)9904 7176