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Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI)

  • Project: Schools in the time of COVID-19: A practical training program to support students and teachers
  • Amount: $94,933
  • Year(s) Funded: 2020

Supporting primary school teachers to support their students’ mental health during COVID and beyond

Teachers wanted practical strategies for supporting their student’s mental health, yet didn’t want to have trawl through pages of content or search for material online. MCRI, together with key stakeholders, is addressing an identified gap in the available resources.

Image courtesy of MCRI

“These modules will support teachers working with children impacted by the stress of the pandemic.”


As Victorian schools went into weeks of lockdown and students moved to online learning from home, teachers feared for the educational and psychological welfare of students, particularly those in early primary school. While many excellent resources have been produced to support the mental health of students during this time, teachers identified a gap in what was available, calling for a resource that provided more than just general information, yet was less intensive than clinical mental health support. It needed to be comprehensive yet focused, offering practical guidelines and recommendations, and designed to give teachers the confidence and expertise they need to support their students.

  • MCRI’s Centre for Community Child Health is working in a confirmed partnership with the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at Melbourne University (MGSE), and in collaboration with the Department of Education and Training (DET) and the Victorian Principals Association.
  • The online modules comprise 2-4 x 1 hourly sessions and are being jointly developed by the project partners and co-designed with teachers themselves.
  • Content is centred on and reflects the practicalities of the role of teachers and situations they are likely to encounter in the classroom during this time.
  • The first two modules for primary school educators were released in October 2020, Child Mental Health Literacy and COVID-19 Related Anxiety with a third planned for February 2021.
  • The program takes a strengths-based approach and acknowledges that some children will cope better than others and therefore support can be differentiated.
  • In collaboration with DET, Victorian Principals Association and MGSE, the intention is that module content will be integrated with the existing curriculum so that teachers can implement class-based strategies through normal classroom learning.
  • Project scoping suggested that the modules should have: limited pre- or follow up reading, include practical guidance on supporting student mental health, be user friendly, free or very low cost, and available to access at any time.
  • Modules will be housed on the University of Melbourne’s learning management system, ‘Canvas’, which is a digital learning platform comprising integrated learning products that support effective online teaching and promote student engagement.
  • It is expected that modules will be added based on demand and feedback from teachers regarding learning needs. Modules will be referenced against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) and are anticipated to contribute to professional development hours for teaching registration.