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ASSESSMENT ITEM 2: Project Proposal

Background and Rationale

Australia's multicultural population brings unique opportunities and problems, especially with regard to the setting of the educational system. This multicultural environment highlights the pressing need for a curriculum that places a strong emphasis on the well-being and mental health of kids (Miller et al., 2018). According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), more Australian students than ever may experience mental health difficulties. The most prevalent mental illnesses among kids and teenagers (ages 4 to 17), according to the AIHW, are anxiety and depressive disorders. These disorders affect one in seven of them annually (AIHW, 2023). The enormous impact highlights the necessity for comprehensive mental health care in schools these problems affect a person's educational path (Fenwick-Smith et al., 2018). According to a study by Allen et al. (2018), fostering cultural identification is essential. The findings they came to suggest that a strong feeling of cultural affiliation may shield individuals from mental health issues.

Students in schools with diverse student populations, however, may experience problems with identity formation, adaptive stress, and a sense of belonging. For those seeking mental health care, communication skills are crucial (Kassymova et al., 2018). About 22.3% of Australians today have reported using another dominant language in their homes (Zhang et al., 2023). In order to interact with students from different linguistic backgrounds, this highlights the importance of employing unique communication approaches in multicultural classrooms (Yang, 2018). Language challenges may make it difficult for students to ask for assistance or comprehend the resources that are offered (Hu & Gao, 2018). This emphasises the importance of a program like the intervention program. One of the pillars of Australia's educational system is its dedication to inclusive education, which is expressed in the National Disability Strategy and the Disability Discrimination Act of 1992 (Australian Human Rights Commission [AHRC], 2019). Nevertheless, inclusion encompasses cultural diversity in addition to disability. It is crucial to guarantee that every student, irrespective of their cultural origins, has fair access to help for their mental health and well-being (ISSOP Migration Working Group).

On several levels, the intervention program is justified. It focuses primarily on the necessity of early intervention. In their research, Nelson et al. (2020) emphasise the value of early intervention in averting more serious mental health difficulties later in life. By putting a plan into place in schools, the program for intervention can spot and handle emotional and social issues when they are still in their infancy, giving kids the fundamental resources for efficient self-management. The intervention program also complies with the recommendations of the AHRC, which emphasises the significance of cultural competence in fostering inclusive environments (AHRC, 2016). This program will help create a more cordial and courteous school community, which is essential for promoting well-being.

Additionally, as advised by the Vision 2030 Connections Project, the intervention program is designed to de-stigmatize mental health issues in schools. The stigma attached to requesting help is lessened by open conversations about mental health and support services, creating a comfortable environment for students to voice their worries and request aid (National Mental Health Commission, 2023). The intervention program can improve well-being and positively affect academic achievements, highlighting the link between academic success and mental health.

Goals of the program

First, increasing emotional and social resilience strives to give children the knowledge and abilities they need to manage the challenges of cultural variety successfully (Motti-Stefanidi et al., 2017). According to a growing body of research, people with remarkable social and emotional resilience are more capable of handling stress, adjusting to change, and sustaining mental health (Ungar, 2018). This objective is crucial to giving pupils the tools they need to deal with the unique stressors present in multicultural classrooms. Another essential objective is to foster cultural competency, which emphasises the promotion of knowledge, respect, and admiration for various backgrounds, cultures, and viewpoints (Punti & Dingel, 2021). This goal is supported by research by Juvonen et al. (2019), showing that cultural competency improves social cohesion in multicultural settings, reduces prejudice, and improves well-being.

It is critical to establish a secure and welcoming environment to make sure all children feel appreciated and supported (Darling-Hammond et al., 2018). Numerous studies highlight how students' feelings of safety and inclusiveness have a direct impact on their motivation to learn and their mental health (Rieke et al., 2017; Page et al., 2021; Aldridge & McChesney, 2018). To lessen the stigma associated with mental health conditions and encourage students to seek help when necessary, encouraging open dialogues about mental health has been chosen as a goal. Research by Hoover & Bostic (2021) highlights that lowering stigma can encourage more people to seek help and initiate early interventions, both essential for better mental health outcomes. It is also crucial to give pupils coping mechanisms to handle stress and emotional difficulties adequately (Page et al., 2021). This goal is consistent with research showing how coping skill instruction can increase emotional control and resilience. A crucial objective in overcoming language barriers and ensuring that every student, irrespective of their linguistic background, may readily get the necessary help is to improve interaction and access to mental health resources (Javanparast et al., 2020).

Methodology

The intervention program concentrates on three key areas, each supported by a culturally sensitive strategy and steered by pertinent theoretical frameworks to assure efficacy in multicultural educational settings. Cultural competence makes up the first part. Workshops intended for teachers and students in multicultural schools will seek to promote cultural sensitivity, understanding, and awareness. Participants will learn to respect and value different backgrounds and opinions through participatory activities and discussions. Such training is crucial for enhancing cross-cultural communication and results, according to studies like those by Sit et al. (2017) and Koponen (2019).

The second element will consist of resilience-building activities that will be included in the academic program to give pupils the critical social and emotional skills they need. These classes give students the skills to handle stress, cope with transitions, and maintain good mental health (O'Connor, 2017). Research by Rodríguez-Fernández et al. (2018) emphasises the importance of resilience in fostering mental well-being. It shows that resilience can be fostered and reinforced through various tactics that align with this program component. The third and final component will be open dialogue and awareness campaigns, which aim to encourage open dialogue about mental wellness via school-wide programs, peer support groups, and awareness campaigns. The objective is to reduce the stigma attached to mental health issues and give kids a safe space to express their concerns. The Australian National Mental Health Policy, for instance, emphasises the importance of initiatives that promote candid conversations about mental health in order to lessen stigma and encourage more individuals to seek treatment (Morgan et al., 2021).

The specific needs and perspectives of the varied student body must be taken into consideration in order to guarantee that the curriculum is culturally sensitive Aldridge & McChesney, 2018. The first priority for a culturally sensitive strategy is recognising and valuing pupils' diverse cultural backgrounds. The program's materials, activities, and resources must be welcoming and respectful towards cultural diversity (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2020). The American Psychological Association (APA), among other organisations, has established standards for cultural competency (APA, 2018). This approach meets these criteria. Local government representatives, parents, and cultural experts must all contribute to the creation and implementation of programs. Their viewpoints can provide excellent guidance on modifying the program to suit social norms and preferences. Community engagement is essential to culturally acceptable activities, in accordance with the National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) (NCCC, n.d.).

Third, acknowledging the significance of linguistic accessibility is crucial to the program's success. Providing documentation in many languages, offering translation services, and taking into account the importance of non-verbal communication in diverse cultures are all components of a culturally sensitive strategy (Purnell, 2023). For instance, a study by Kwame & Petruca (2021) emphasises how important language accessibility is for enhancing patient care in healthcare settings. Finally, recognising and removing potential obstacles, including stigma, mistrust of mental health care, and cultural preconceptions about mental health, is crucial to cultural responsiveness (Arredondo, 2019).

A helpful framework for comprehending and encouraging behaviour change is the Transtheoretical Model (TTM). TTM will be used within the curriculum framework to evaluate students' progress toward improved mental health. This approach acknowledges various phases of development, including pre-contemplation and maintenance. For instance, pre-contemplative kids might benefit from awareness-raising efforts, whereas action-stage pupils might gain from resilience-building lessons. The effectiveness of TTM in fostering behaviour change across a variety of domains, including mental health, is highlighted by research by Hashemzadeh et al. (2019). Lastly, the focus of the theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) will be on how attitudes, arbitrary standards, and perceived behavioural control affect people's intent to engage in particular behaviour. These ideas will aid in identifying and addressing particular program elements impacting students' propensity for participating in mental health support-seeking behaviours. Nisson & Earl (2020) and LaCaille conducted research that showed how these ideas might be used to predict and comprehend a variety of health-related behaviors, including the need for mental health assistance.

References

Aldridge, J. M., & McChesney, K. (2018). The relationships between school climate and adolescent mental health and wellbeing: A systematic literature review. International Journal of Educational Research, 88, 121-145. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2018.01.012

Allen, K., Kern, M. L., Vella-Brodrick, D., Hattie, J., & Waters, L. (2018). What schools need to know about fostering school belonging: A meta-analysis. Educational Psychology Review, 30, 1-34. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10648-016-9389-8

American Occupational Therapy Association. (2020). Educator’s guide for addressing cultural awareness, humility, and dexterity in occupational therapy curricula. The American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 74(Supplement_3), 7413420003p1-7413420003p19. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.74S3005

 American Psychological Association. (2018). APA adopts new multicultural guidelines. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2018/01/multicultural-guidelines

Arredondo, P. (2019). Eliminating race-based mental health disparities: Promoting equity and culturally responsive care across settings. New Harbinger Publications. https://books.google.co.in/books

Australian Human Rights Commission. (2016). Building belonging. https://humanrights.gov.au.pdf

Australian Human Rights Commission. (2019). Inquiry into free and equal: An Australian conversation on human rights. https://humanrights.gov.au/sites.pdf

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2023). Prevalence and impact of mental illness. https://www.aihw.gov.au/mental-health/topic-areas/mental-illness

Darling-Hammond, L., & Cook-Harvey, C. M. (2018). Educating the Whole Child: Improving School Climate to Support Student Success. Learning Policy Institute. https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED606462.pdf

Fenwick-Smith, A., Dahlberg, E. E., & Thompson, S. C. (2018). Systematic review of resilience-enhancing, universal, primary school-based mental health promotion programs. BMC Psychology, 6, 1-17.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-018-0242-3

Hashemzadeh, M., Rahimi, A., Zare-Farashbandi, F., Alavi-Naeini, A. M., & Daei, A. (2019). Transtheoretical model of health behavioral change: A systematic review. Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, 24(2), 83. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijnmr.IJNMR_94_17

Hoover, S., & Bostic, J. (2021). Schools as a vital component of the child and adolescent mental health system. Psychiatric Services, 72(1), 37-48. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.201900575

Hu, J., & Gao, X. (2018). Self-regulated strategic writing for academic studies in an English-medium-instruction context. Language and Education, 32(1), 1-20. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500782.2017.1373804

ISSOP Migration Working Group. (2018). ISSOP position statement on migrant child health. Child: Care, Health and Development, 44(1), 161-170.  https://doi.org/10.1111/cch.12485

Javanparast, S., Naqvi, S. K. A., & Mwanri, L. (2020). Health service access and utilisation amongst culturally and linguistically diverse populations in regional South Australia: A qualitative study. Rural and Remote Health, 20(4), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.22605/RRH5694

Juvonen, J., Lessard, L. M., Rastogi, R., Schacter, H. L., & Smith, D. S. (2019). Promoting social inclusion in educational settings: Challenges and opportunities. Educational Psychologist, 54(4), 250-270. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461520.2019.1655645

Kassymova, K., Kosherbayeva, N., Sangilbayev, S., & Schachl, H. (2018, September). Stress management techniques for students. In International Conference on the Theory and Practice of Personality Formation in Modern Society (ICTPPFMS 2018) (pp. 47-56). Atlantis Press. https://doi.org/10.2991/ictppfms-18.2018.10

Koponen, J. (2019). The flipped classroom approach for teaching cross-cultural communication to millennials. Journal of Teaching in International Business, 30(2), 102-124. https://doi.org/10.1080/08975930.2019.1663776

Kwame, A., & Petrucka, P. M. (2021). A literature-based study of patient-centered care and communication in nurse-patient interactions: barriers, facilitators, and the way forward. BMC Nursing, 20(1), 1-10.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12912-021-00684-2

LaCaille, L. (2020). Theory of reasoned action. Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine, 2231-2234. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-39903-0_1619

Miller, E., Ziaian, T., & Esterman, A. (2018). Australian school practices and the education experiences of students with a refugee background: A review of the literature. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 22(4), 339-359. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2017.1365955

Morgan, A. J., Wright, J., & Reavley, N. J. (2021). Review of Australian initiatives to reduce stigma towards people with complex mental illness: What exists and what works?. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 15(1), 1-51. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13033-020-00423-1

Motti-Stefanidi, F., & S Masten, A. (2017). A resilience perspective on immigrant youth adaptation and development. Handbook on positive development of minority children and youth, 19-34. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-43645-6_2

National Center For Cultural Comptence. (n.d). Definitions of cultural competence (Georgetown University). https://nccc.georgetown.edu/curricula/culturalcompetence.html

National Mental Health Commission. (2023). Vision 2030. https://www.mentalhealthcommission.gov.au/projects/vision-2030

Nelson, C. A., Bhutta, Z. A., Harris, N. B., Danese, A., & Samara, M. (2020). Adversity in childhood is linked to mental and physical health throughout life. BMJ, 371.  https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3048

Nisson, C., & Earl, A. (2020). The theories of reasoned action and planned behavior. The Wiley encyclopedia of health psychology, 755-761.  https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119057840.ch129

O'Connor, A. (2017). Understanding transitions in the early years: Supporting change through attachment and resilience. Routledge. https://books.google.co.in/books

Page, A., Charteris, J., Anderson, J., & Boyle, C. (2021). Fostering school connectedness online for students with diverse learning needs: Inclusive education in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 36(1), 142-156. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2021.1872842

Punti, G., & Dingel, M. (2021). Rethinking race, ethnicity, and the assessment of intercultural competence in higher education. Education Sciences, 11(3), 110. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11030110

Purnell, L. (2018). Cross cultural communication: Verbal and non-verbal communication, interpretation and translation. Global applications of culturally competent health care: Guidelines for practice, 131-142. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-69332-3_14

Riekie, H., Aldridge, J. M., & Afari, E. (2017). The role of the school climate in high school students’ mental health and identity formation: A South Australian study. British Educational Research Journal, 43(1), 95-123.  https://doi.org/10.1002/berj.3254

Rodríguez-Fernández, A., Ramos-Díaz, E., & Axpe, I. (2018). The role of resilience and psychological well-being in school engagement and perceived academic performance: An exploratory model to improve academic achievement. Health and Academic Achievement, 18(1), 159-176. https://books.google.co.in/books

Sit, A., Mak, A. S., & Neill, J. T. (2017). Does cross-cultural training in tertiary education enhance cross-cultural adjustment? A systematic review. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 57, 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2017.01.001

Ungar, M. (2018). Systemic resilience. Ecology and Society, 23(4). https://doi.org/10.1001/dmp.2010.7

Yang, P. (2018). Developing TESOL teacher intercultural identity: An intercultural communication competence approach. TESOL Journal, 9(3), 525-541.  https://doi.org/10.1002/tesj.356

Zhang, L., Tsung, L., & Qi, X. (2023). Home language use and shift in Australia: Trends in the new millennium. Frontiers in Psychology, 14, 1096147.  https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2023.1096147

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