Over a few weeks, the Youth Media Team met with the principals of three Canberra high schools – Merici College, St Clare’s College, and Canberra High School.

We decided on a set of questions to ask the schools, focusing on the mental health support available, the schools’ approach to and relationship with mental health, and the types of issues students raise in schools. These questions included ‘How does [this school] provide support to students seeking help with mental health?’, ‘what is the best way to get students listening and talking about mental health?’ and ‘ideally, how would [your school] work with outside services?’.

Before we started these interviews, we discussed what our aim would be, and concluded that we wanted to know what schools were doing to support students struggling from mental health issues, and their relationships with outside services. We had anticipated different answers for each school, and as we predicted the responses varied greatly.

The principals and their deputies seemed eager to interact with outside services that would help their students, which we were very glad to see. They were also remarkably well-informed about students who were struggling, and were able to actively discuss the actions that were being taken, as well as the best ways to help students. Overall, principals and their vice-principals are well informed about their students, and know how to effectively help them.