Increasing Community Mental Health through Early Education in Schools

The 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium will this year be held over 15-17 October at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, Hobart, Tasmania.

Joining us at the conference is Mr Trevor Buchanan, Principal at Agnes Water State School who will present on ‘Increasing Community Mental Health through Early Education in Schools’.


Agnes Water State School is a small public school with 220 students in Queensland. It is located 500km North of Brisbane on the East Coast and is 125km from the nearest major town. With a population of just over 3000, Agnes Water and the Town of 1770’s existence relies heavily on tourism. Through the Primary Health Network (PHN) Mental Health Needs Assessment 2017-2018 and Australian Early Development Census (AEDC) Agnes Water is identified as a community at risk of significant mental health and mental illness concerns with limited access to support resources.

Recognising this, along with a growing observation of anxiety based behaviours and a need to respond to an increasing risk of suicide in children under 12 years of age in the area, staff of Agnes Water State School have begun a journey to address the long term mental health and wellbeing of the community from the school.

Agnes Water State School uses the Wheel of Wellbeing as a framework to align curriculum and co-curricular programs and inform future planning. This is building a balance of opportunities for students to develop their body, mind, spirit and connect to people, place and the planet. The Wheel of Well-being was designed in 2008 as part of a Big Lottery Well London’s programme. It is an ongoing collaboration between the Mental Health Promotion Team at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation. Since 2016, the Queensland Mental Health Commission in partnership with Education Queensland has used the Wheel of Wellbeing as one framework to assist schools in addressing mental health and wellbeing in their schooling communities.

Through this 20-minute presentation, the Principal and Head of Curriculum of Agnes Water State School will share their journey in strengthening wellbeing and mental health for students and staff and promoting this message through the community.

Key Learnings:
1. How a focus on mental health can be immersed in the curriculum and not be seen as an add on.
2. How the Wheel of Wellbeing is used to enhance student, staff and community wellbeing.
3. Challenges and barriers faced in delivering a focus on wellbeing in a school setting.


Trevor is currently the Principal of Agnes Water State School, a rural school on the Central Coast of Queensland. He leads a targeted school improvement agenda that is underpinned by research-based practices, while providing a supportive environment for staff development. As a Trainer in the Wheel of Wellbeing, he has used this framework to ensure his school is positioned to provide a school environment that not only addresses the curriculum needs of students, but the increasing wellbeing challenges for children.

For more information on the upcoming 2018 Australian Rural & Remote Mental Health Symposium please visit



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