Mental health trumps chaplains

Robert Wrona

Emphasis needs to be on improving the mental health of at-risk students

I want the schools chaplaincy program scrapped and the funds transferred to supporting a greater emphasis on the mental health of students.

Whether that takes the form of employing more psychologists and counsellors in schools remains to be decided. The main point is that the emphasis needs to be on improving the mental health of at-risk students.

There is a paradox for me in all of this because while I support scrapping the schools chaplaincy program I support religious instruction in public schools and I hope a compromise can be reached by all stakeholders.

The issue about identifying and trying to enhance the mental health of students is greater than just at a school level because schools are a reflection of the general population. Society as a whole must face a decision about how seriously it wants to address the issue of mental health.

It is great to see taboos and stigma breaking down but it is clear that we still promote physical health ahead of mental health and I can’t understand why this is so.

Basically, a person can be somewhat overweight or even in a wheelchair but if their head space is sound they will function and get on with life. Alternatively, even if somebody is physically very fit if they are struck down with a mental health condition like depression they can’t function even if physically they’re fine. I strongly believe that our mental health is more important than physical health.

Robert Wrona is a casual teacher.