Small moments can make big differences in how children feel and function in school. This was a key driver behind a series of mental health workshops held earlier this year.
The five Every Moment Counts workshops held across Aotearoa New Zealand were a collaboration between Otago Polytechnic School of Occupational Therapy, South Island Alliance (DHBS), Auckland University of Technology, Werry Workforce Whāraurau, and the University of Canterbury (UC).
The Nelson workshop was supported by the South Island Alliance Programme Office and Werry Wharaurau Workforce Centre, and had 60 attendees. In Christchurch, 80 participants attended the workshop, which was sponsored and organised by the University of Canterbury’s School of Health Sciences Te Kura Mātai Hauora. Other workshops were held in Dunedin, Hamilton and Auckland.
Designed with a public health focus, the workshops aim to bring child wellbeing practitioners from both the health and education sectors together. By offering evidence-based mental health promotion strategies they will help to build capacity across a range of professionals with vested interest in the mental health and wellbeing of children and youth, such as special and general education teachers, RTLBs, counsellors, psychologists, nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, teaching support staff, community youth providers, and speech and language therapists.
The Christchurch workshop was delivered to captive audience of 80 health and education professionals.“The workshops are unique as they bring together educators and health professionals, who work in schools, hospitals, clinic and community settings, promoting a collaborative approach,” says Dale Sheehan, local workshop organiser and Senior Lecturer, School of Health Sciences.
The workshops are delivered by Dr Susan Bazyk, project director of Every Moment Counts: Promoting Mental Health Throughout the Day – a multi-pronged mental health promotion initiative originally funded by the Ohio Department of Education (everymomentcounts.org). Dr Bazyk is currently in New Zealand on a Fulbright Specialist scholarship and is a Professor Emerita of the Occupational Therapy Program at Cleveland State University where she taught for 34 years.
“Every Moment Counts reinforces the message that enjoyable experiences throughout the day promote feelings of emotional wellbeing. Everyone can be a mental health promoter,” says Dr Bazyk.Workshop participants are learning to apply evidence-based mental health promotion strategies and implement activity-based programmes using practical examples for building capacity of the children’s workforce. “These events will also help build local and national inter-professional networks and lead to further collaboration between health and education sectors,” says Sheehan.
For the organisations involved, the next step is to seek funding to develop and maintain a learning culture across the workshop sites through the establishment of a sustainable, national, community of practitioners. The long-term intention is to facilitate effective translation of knowledge into practice through ongoing peer support, and the co-designing of online resources.