MindMatters in Minutes. What is Mental Health? Part two! Why schools? School. If you wanted to improve the mental health of an entire population, one of the best places you could start is at school. For one thing, most of us go to school. For 10 years of our lives we have this one thing in common, so it’s a place where you can pretty much catch everyone. High school in particular spans a crucial and often challenging transition into physical and social maturity. It’s a time when some young people are vulnerable to stresses and in need of support. Research has shown that protective factors developed in school can help all students, and they can also offset risk factors from elsewhere in a student’s life. This means that for some students, school can be a haven. Actions taken in school can have a big impact on a student’s wellbeing, not just in the short term but over their entire lives. And the effect is not limited to wellbeing: mental health is a foundation of school achievement. Positive mental health can translate into good behaviour, good habits, good attendance, positive community, and good grades. If every school were producing students with good mental health, we would see a ripple effect across the entire nation, for everyone’s benefit. MindMatters is a framework that helps school staff at every level make this vision possible. It is NOT a program to turn you into a mental health professional. You already have a job. It’s not a set of lesson plans. Instead, MindMatters is a way of approaching what you already do on a day to day basis, from the way you smile at students, to the types of conversations you have in the staffroom, to the opportunities you take to empower your students. Using the MindMatters framework, school staff can take a strategic, targeted approach to mental health and create better outcomes for staff and students alike, within our classes, our schools and across the nation.