News & Articles

Michael Barnett: Saving the next Cassandra Fausett

NZ Herald – 7 Oct, 2022, 05:00 am
Link to article
Photo / Robert Kneschke

Michael Barnett: Saving the next Cassandra Fausett.

Health services are overwhelmed. Schools are left to pick up the pieces with a jigsaw of inconsistent and different or intermittent programmes and interventions that deliver mixed results.

Inaction and indifference are not options, nor is repeating the same interventions that leave children and families helpless.

The Government responded well to support for business managers and leaders and their mental health last year. The Auckland Business Chamber and EMA launched in Auckland to an overwhelming response. In a little over six months, more than 75,000 self-help resources have been downloaded; 71,000 people have visited the site; 1300 emergency helpline calls managed; 550 funding applications for specialist help approved; and 394 wellbeing professionals and 59 organisations brought on board.

It’s a game-changer, the resources are valued, relevant, and in keen daily demand.

Business leaders, managers and owners are talking openly about being overwhelmed by anxiety, fears, frustrations, avoidance behaviours, debilitating stress, sleeplessness and bad behaviour from alcohol and drug consumption to hitting out at those who matter most.

Our team has searched internationally for the best programmes operating today to change the odds for our children.

We want it piloted now in 20 schools nationwide and have a proposal ready to share. We will be knocking on doors for an opportunity to be heard. Silence is not a response we can accept.

A MindUP programme trial warrants backing and resources to assess its impact and value to the New Zealand situation and school curriculum. It is an idea whose day has come to our shores as we cannot keep promulgating failure. It is a life and death issue for our country now and we must do better to change the outcomes.

Resilience and mental well-being do not just happen but lifelong skills can be taught with the right expertise and sustained support.

It starts with us, at home, in the community and at school to teach and promote positive social and functional behaviours and emotional competence and make it integral to education, ranked as seriously as reading, writing and maths, social and intellectual intelligence – and analytical, investigative, and digital capabilities.

We want a nation of happy, optimistic, socially and intellectually intelligent Kiwi kids willing, able and excited and confident that they have the life lessons to be resilient so they live their best life – come what may.

Our investigations into the success of MindUP show it is a response we could activate now and evolve a long-term solution for New Zealand.

MindUP, an evidence-based programme for children aged 3-14, is a pathway with proven pedagogy to transform the way we teach, learn and live in New Zealand.

Founded by actress Goldie Hawn in 2003 and developed by neuroscience, education, mindfulness, and psychology experts, MindUP fosters the development of mental fitness and well-being of children, educators and parents.

The Goldie Hawn Foundation has been rolling out the MindUP initiative since 2003. Photo / Fox Studios, File Operating in 14 countries, it has positively impacted nearly 7 million children and trained more than 175,000 teachers, providing essential knowledge and tools to manage stress, regulate emotions and face the challenges of the 21st century with resilience.

We can bring it into New Zealand schools with the full support of the MindUP organisation and have access to proven resources and processes used around the world and adapted to distinct communities, cultures and value systems.

MindUP uses a train-the-trainer system and has the modules available to introduce the pilot in schools in our country, as part of our national recovery and build-back-better ethos and vision.

We can run the trial, under the guidance of the Goldie Hawn Foundation, to ensure it fits our context, requirements, and budget, and test its efficacy and its benefit to providing children with lifelong skills for happiness. We’ll teach children happiness.

As a programme encouraging and enabling children to thrive with a whole-of-school approach that promotes shared values, it can be tailored to include and respect cultural diversity, and invite involvement of the wider school community and family.

Kids love it. Teachers love it. Parents love it. And the research shows it delivers.

The mental health of children and young people is our most precious resource to build a better world. Just as we value workplace cultures that nurture people and their wellbeing, we need to put wellbeing at the very core of our education, social and relationship systems.

Businesses, the Government, and communities need to act urgently and decisively to help children develop the mental fitness necessary to thrive in school, work and life.

Our future as a nation depends on it. We have a responsibility to ensure this is not a lost generation. Cassandra’s life must be more than a statistic. We must save our children.

Where to get help

If it is an emergency and you or someone else is at risk, call 111.

For counselling and support:

Lifeline: Call 0800 543 354 or text 4357 (HELP)

Suicide Crisis Helpline: Call 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)

Need to talk? Call or text 1737

Depression helpline: Call 0800 111 757 or text 4202

For children and young people:

Youthline: Call 0800 376 633 or text 234

What’s Up: Call 0800 942 8787 (11am to 11pm) or webchat (11am to 10.30pm)

For help with specific issues:

Alcohol and Drug Helpline: Call 0800 787 797

Anxiety Helpline: Call 0800 269 4389 (0800 ANXIETY)

OutLine: Call 0800 688 5463 (0800 OUTLINE) (6pm-9pm)

Safe to talk (sexual harm): Call 0800 044 334 or text 4334

All services are free and available 24/7 unless otherwise specified.

For more information and support, talk to your local doctor, hauora, community mental health team, or counselling service. The Mental Health Foundation has more helplines and service contacts on its website.

Do you need help now?

If you, or someone you know, requires crisis or emergency support, please reach out for help via the links below. You are not alone; there are FREE professional resources available to help you.