Taking the lead on wellbeing, with the support of Be You
Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is at a point of transition.
Between changes in legislation which encourage educators and their representatives to push for better pay, through to policies which recognise the importance of early learning, there’s huge momentum and recognition about the value of the ECEC sector, and the role that educators and leaders play in setting children up for success.
Against this backdrop, however, is a workforce which is coming out of a global pandemic, and working through shortages and challenges. Wellbeing is now much more important than it has been in the past, and is a huge aspect of the conversations that are happening in the sector.
Be You – Wellbeing in education specialists with tailored ideas and support for ECEC
Be You is a national initiative that equips educators to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people from birth to 18 years, providing an end-to-end approach for early learning services, school age care services, primary schools, and secondary schools across Australia, and is a key supporter in working with educators and leaders to ensure that wellbeing is accessible, front of mind and achievable.
Delivered by Beyond Blue, in collaboration with Early Childhood Australia and headspace, Be You supports mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention. The initiative develops educators’ mental health literacy, providing the knowledge, understanding and skills to promote the mental health of children and young people, and is offered free of charge.
Be You supports early learning services, school age care services and schools to develop a positive, inclusive and resilient learning community where every child, young person, educator and family can achieve their best possible mental health.
Form a team, take the lead
For any initiative to thrive, leaders are needed, and Be You is asking those in the ECEC sector to consider raising their hand to be a driving force for change in the wellbeing of their broader staff teams, the ECEC sector as a whole, and the communities around them.
While being an individual member of Be You offers some support, true strength comes in numbers, and that’s why Be You is encouraging individual members to consider forming an Action Team, or becoming an Action Team Leader.
An Action Team is a group of individuals within an early learning service, school or school age care service which leads the implementation of the whole learning community approach to Be You. The Action Team works together with the wider learning community to ensure Be You is tailored to your needs.
“We understand that times are tough for young Australians, and for their educators,” Geri Sumpter, head of Be You said.
“The endless to-do lists, weight of responsibility and lack of clear support is dimming the magic of working with children.”
“Be You is here to help. We can help educators reconnect with that magic – wherever they are on their wellbeing journey.”
A chance to make a change
“Mental health and wellbeing improves when we have a sense of empowerment and control over our environment,” Ms. Sumpter explained.
“While we can’t change everything, there are actions we can take. We encourage educators to set up an Action Team in their service or school and get guidance from a Be You Consultant to discuss the next steps in their Be You journey.”
Rather than “another thing to do”, becoming an Action Team or an Action Team Leader actually gives educators more support, by pairing them up with a dedicated Be You Consultant who works with them to identify practical actions they can take to foster mental health and wellbeing in their learning community, which in turn has the benefit of creating more space for growth and opportunity, and to respond to challenges.
Why an Action Team?
Action Teams are central to Be You, because the most effective approach to mental health prevention and promotion time and time again has been shown to be one that involves the whole learning community – including leaders, educators, children and young people, families and the wider local community.
All ECEC professionals know that children and young people need access to caring adults who are well supported with their own mental health and wellbeing, and who have the tools, resources and support they need to ensure they are bringing the best of what they have to work with them each day.
In simple terms, it’s the analogy of needing to “put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” Educators and leaders can’t pour from an empty cup, and in order to refill their cups and support others, they need advice, support, and a strong team behind them.
While self-care is important, educator wellbeing is about more than individual strategies. Educator wellbeing is best fostered when it is approached holistically, and for teams to thrive, they need champions – Action Team Leaders.
Action Team Leaders can be anyone from the learning community who is passionate about supporting mental health and wellbeing, regardless of qualification, job title, position in the service, or years of experience.
It’s easy to get started with Be You. First register as an individual, go to beyou.edu.au and click Register. Then create an Action Team at your early learning service or school. Next appoint some Action Team Leaders, they can be anyone from your learning community who is passionate about supporting mental health and wellbeing.
You’re now ready to register your learning community. Your Action Team Leaders will need to log in to their individual account and select My Learning Community from their dashboard. This will give access to a network of Be You Consultants, additional tools and resources and invitations to Be You Events.
Your Action Team Leader will then be contacted by a Be You Consultant to assist with the implementation of Be You at your early learning service or school.
Take the next step towards building Australia’s most mentally healthy generation. Register yourself and your learning community with Be You today.
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