Cath Shaw, Founder
A point came in my life when I was no longer experiencing joy in anything. I would wake every day feeling sick in the stomach, anxious and fearful of what terrible thing was going to happen that day or the next day. My life felt hopeless and I wanted to escape.
My turning point came one day as a jolt, as I realised just how much my situation was impacting on those around me. For the first time in a long time a fierce determination ignited inside of me to find a way to make a change, and that determination remains today.
As I started researching how my mind worked, I discovered practical and positive tools and techniques that I could apply in my life daily so I could move forward. My focus turned to children and how skills and concepts must be taught to young children, starting from early childhood, so they can learn some of these skills before they get to High School and begin to navigate adolescence.
I began working with a talented group of professionals and the esteemed Dr. Terry Orlick to develop the Positive Living Skills Initiative to support Early Childhood services and Primary Schools to lead their communities toward a culture of mental wellbeing. My vision is to see these skills embedded in all Australian communities.
Now more than ever, resources like these must be made freely available to teachers and school communities so that we can begin to positively impact the mental health pandemic that is crippling our communities.
To do that we need support. Read our White Paper now.
‘On what we do with children, rests the destiny of our world.’ Dr. Terry Orlick
Our communities are in trouble
The current mental health situation in Australia is alarming, and getting worse.
BEFORE the outbreak of Covid-19, the state if mental health in Australia was already at crisis point, with:
-1 in 7 young people aged 4-17 experiencing a mental health condition in any given year
- Half of all mental health conditions emerging by age 14, and
- Suicide is the leading cause of death among children aged between 5 and 17 years. On top of that:
-9.8% of Australian children entering Primary School are considered socially vulnerable and 8.4% emotionally vulnerable.
After experiencing drought, floods and fire, Covid-19 has added a dangerous dimension to our nation's collective mental health, so much so that children as young as 5 are now reported as calling Kids Helpline, and it is predicted that suicide deaths could rise by 25% each year for the next 5 years.
Educators are experiencing more stress and less job satisfaction than ever before and School and Educational stakeholders want engaged teams rather than high attrition rates which impacts all stakeholders, including families.
Mental illness is the problem, and education is the solution, and there is a gap in the system.
Recently we released the Positive Living Skills WHITE PAPER.
Our approach to mental health education
When does true 'prevention’ begin when it comes to mental wellbeing? Our belief is that prevention MUST begin with children as young as 3 years of age learning habitual skills for wellbeing BEFORE there are signs of mental challenges, and because school is the universal location where children learn, this is the platform to begin emotional intelligence education.
Our approach is aimed to support educators, children and families.
The application of the Positive Living Skills concepts is based on the principles or theories of:
(1) Priming, an implicit memory effect where exposure to one stimulus influences a response to another stimulus.
- All scripted learning experiences within the Positive Living Skills programs are worded and phrased intentionally with positive language patterns, and the concepts within the Positive Living Skills program relate to and therefore ‘prime’ participants for the other concepts.
(2) Distributed Practice, a learning strategy where practice is broken up into a number of short sessions spread over a longer period of time - The aim is for educators to make Positive Living Skills a part of daily teaching at least once each week. These work to build:
(3) Long Term Habits. With repetition and practice the brain can change itself through neuroplasticity. We can rewire our brains, for better or worse. Based on practice and repetition, by completing an activity repeatedly, eventually all the relevant neural systems work together to automatically produce the activity, and the activity becomes a ‘habit’.
The purpose of the Positive Living Skills Initiative is to help children learn a range of preventative and practical mental wellbeing skills and strategies so they can become adults who live as participating and contributing members of thriving communities. At the same time we are committed to supporting educators and families.
Young children are building neural pathways every day, as they learn everything from washing their hands to reading and writing. The Positive Living Skills programs are evidence-based and developed based on a range of practical and universal tools and proven concepts, which when applied with the principles of of priming and distributed practice, can help young people build long term positive and practical habits to help them look after their mental health, and maximise their ability to learn and achieve, and cooperate with others as they move toward their potential.
The teacher-led Positive Living Skills program help children build a lifelong skillset to self-direct their own thinking processes, emotions, actions and outcomes.
Our initiative also addressees the growing rates of stress and burn out currently being experienced by educators, and also assists families to build their levels of mental wellbeing.
Ultimately, our purpose is to positively and significantly impact the alarming and growing statistics of anxiety, depression and suicide that our societies are experiencing today.