A unique web and app-based well-being program will be evaluated in a group of Victorian schools, thanks to a grant from the Victorian Government Technology Innovation Fund to not-for-profit organisation Smiling Mind.
Smiling Mind delivers free web and app-based programs, with a specific focus on supporting resilience and emotional well-being in young people. Tools and strategies are provided to manage stress and everyday pressure and increase concentration levels, in a bid to prevent long-term mental illness.
Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips made the announcement today at Frankston Heights Primary School, emphasising the opportunities presented by new, highly-accessible technologies to support well-being in young people.
"The project will trial and evaluate the online and application-based education program across a diverse group of Victorian government schools, evaluating its effectiveness both within classroom environments and as an early intervention tool," Mr Rich-Phillips said.
"The funding will also support the development of an Android app, including tablet compatibility, with updated functionality and improved user experience."
The $12 million Victorian Government Technology Innovation Fund was launched in December last year to support collaborative pilot projects and trials that transform the delivery of government services and boost public sector productivity.
The Fund is focused on projects that harness industry capabilities and take a staged approach to development and implementation. It delivers on key initiatives of Victoria's Technology Plan for the Future and the Victorian Government ICT Strategy.
"The benefits of the education program will be evaluated in terms of student well-being, resilience and engagement, and the reduced incidence of mental health issues in young people," Minister for Education Martin Dixon said.
"The Coalition Government's Technology Innovation Fund and the Smiling Mind program will both be of tremendous benefit to school children in Frankston. The Government is throwing its weight behind this program, which will enhance mental health and wellbeing," Liberal candidate for Frankston, Sean Armistead said.
"Obtaining an evidence base for the app's applicability in an education setting is a valuable step for Smiling Mind.
We hope the findings show benefits to the mental health of students in Victorian schools and support our vision to have Mindfulness Meditation on the Australian Curriculum by 2020," General Manager of Smiling Mind, Lucy Richards said.
The Smiling Mind Education research project is a partnership between Smiling Mind, the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD), Insight SRC, Deakin University, and the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre.
Since its launch in October 2012, Smiling Mind has had more than 350,000 individual app downloads and 5,000 users of the Education Program, as well as developing a free Sports Program with Cricket Australia and a corporate program with IBM designed to support today's working environment.