Evaluation of the MindMatters buddy support scheme in southwest Sydney: Strategies, achievements and challenges
AbstractObjective: Assessing the strategies, achievements and challenges of implementing MindMatters and the views of partner schools towards the buddy support scheme. Design: The MindMatters buddy support scheme (2007–2008) was designed to increase the capacity of secondary schools to adopt a whole-school approach to improving health and well-being of the school community. Fourteen schools received support from health workers and funding. Setting: Secondary schools in southwest Sydney. Method: The scheme was evaluated qualitatively through face-to-face interviews with a representative from each school and thematic analysis of the information. Results: Participants believed that external support is needed to run additional programmes, as schools have competing priorities. They understood the link between the well-being of students and staff and good mental health. The achievements identified included less bullying and more student participation, connectedness, networking with outside agencies and increased confidence in showcasing their programmes. The challenges included: engaging culturally and linguistically diverse and indigenous communities; resources; support from the school executive; and staff transitions, time, skills and motivation. Factors that enabled schools to achieve positive outcomes were: partnership with the health service; MindMatters training; a positive staff attitude; and support from within the school. Conclusion: The partnership scheme contributed to strengthening staff confidence in implementing MindMatters. Health workers helped to bridge the gap between schools and state representatives. The capability of schools, the significance of the scheme and the usefulness of MindMatters training collectively contributed to the main achievements of incorporating a student voice, engaging community and building relationships with other agencies.