But a new digital content platform has been designed to change this.
Fronted by child and adolescent psychologist, Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, and delivered through schools, SchoolTV delivers multimedia-based resources on how parents can prevent and manage some of the most urgent mental health issues facing young Australians.
Stuart Davis, principal of St Leonard’s College in Melbourne, subscribed his school community to the platform this year.
“The reason we are involved is because we think that it’s going to bring the expert knowledge we seek to put in front of parents, who try and do they best they can,” Davis tells EducationHQ.
“I think the people they’ve employed have got profound wisdom,” he adds.
The SchoolTV platform publishes primarily video-based editions ten times a year from February to November, bringing Australia’s leading experts together in a single aggregated resource on a single topic.
The editions are themed around single subjects ranging from anxiety, depression and suicide; to drug and alcohol use and sleeping and eating disorders.
They include expert briefings, Q&As, fact sheets, articles, quizzes and many other resources such as recommended apps and websites.
Davis says the platform complements the school’s model of parent-teacher partnerships.
“One of the things we’ve looked at in our [school] is called coparenting, and that is acknowledging that we are working together to really address a lot of the forces that impact on the health and wellbeing of young people,” he says.
“And so in doing that, what we do is we constantly look for forums we think are pertinent to issues arising in our community, and the great thing about these online ones is that they often link into that.
“And so the director of pastoral care makes a point in her reports and newsletter articles just to put the next link in.”
And for teachers, Davis says there’s still plenty to be learnt from the new resource.
“I think it’s brilliant – it’s for everyone, I actually think it’s for students, parents and teachers,” he says.
“I love it when we bring staff together for small group conversations about issues – it’s nice for them to share perspectives and to suddenly go ‘wow, I am being challenged on something here’ .
“We need to be challenging our thinking.”
The principal looks forward to forming groups among staff, with a mix of younger and more experienced teachers.
“We want to invite them into conversations with younger teachers who probably have a much greater sense of social media and maybe of drug and alcohol use and issues affecting youth, but possibly don’t always have the sensibility,” he adds.
Davis says when dealing with youth mental health, it pays dividends to have an informed perspective.
“What I deal with most times, by the time it gets to my office, the parent is emotional and struggling – it’s because they did not have a perspective or an informed understanding at an earlier stage,” he says.
“They get to a point where they blame themselves.
“I mean, these are great parents – they just want the information, wisdom and support to make the best decisions. And I think that this brings some of that forward so, it is a brilliant programme, and one I think will continue to expand out to all schools.”