Building Mitey Children

19 primary schools across Southland have embraced a new approach to mental health and resilience education through Mitey.

This pioneering initiative, owned and operated by the Sir John Kirwan Foundation, recognises the crucial importance of the mental well-being of our tamariki.

Catering specifically to primary school children in years 1 to 8. It takes a comprehensive school-wide approach that involves the entire school community, including students, their whānau, the board, teachers, and all staff.

Southland is leading the way in implementing this progressive approach beyond Auckland and is being driven by regional coach Belinda Brown.

During the initial phase of Mitey, Belinda provides support to teachers by in establishing specific learning in the classroom around wellbeing, tailoring the learning and approach to each school’s needs together with ensuring a school has an environment that promotes the wellbeing of everyone in it. Subsequent ongoing support, along with labs and workshops, is made available to sustain the momentum of each school’s Mitey journey.

Belinda elaborates, “Mitey is designed to work alongside the school’s own culture and values. Learning in mental health education can be worked into other areas of the curriculum like inquiry, athletics, literacy or art. Mental health education can be seamlessly integrated into everyday teaching.”

Belinda, like all Mitey coaches, is a trained senior teacher with a deep commitment to an education-based focus with positive health outcomes.

“We’re aiming to break down the stigma surrounding mental health and ensure that the next generation grows up feeling mentally healthy.”

Funding from ILT plays a pivotal role in supporting the coaches, enabling them to provide resources and professional development to the teachers from nine Invercargill-based schools.

Paddy O’Brien, ILT Chair, said the board recognised Mitey as an opportunity to make meaningful inroads into youth mental health education and for Invercargill to lead the way once again. 

“It ties together three areas that have always been a priority for us; youth, mental health and education. It provides valuable tools to some of the most vulnerable members of our community,” he said.