All New South Wales teachers will receive mental health training under a plan to help them identify students who need support.
“Our students’ health and education are too important not to have this broad safety net,” NSW education minister Sarah Mitchell said on Sunday.
“Ensuring teachers have the knowledge and confidence to identify when a student needs help enables the community and school support to then wrap around the student.
“This will save lives and strengthen student support in our schools.”
Mitchell said mental health issues were increasingly affecting classrooms.
Teachers must complete 100 hours of professional development to maintain their accreditation. Under the plan, 50 of those hours will cover four priority areas. One will be mental health and wellbeing.
The plan is a first for the state.
Mitchell said she had asked the Education Standards Authority to create a professional development policy enacting the change.
The government is also rolling out more counsellors and support staff, she said.
Labor welcomed the plan as a step in the right direction but said the government was not going far enough.
Opposition education spokeswoman Prue Car and mental health spokeswoman Tara Moriarty urged the government to employ more counsellors in schools.
“Today’s announcement falls short and misses the mark,” Moriarty said. “The responsibility shouldn’t fall on teachers. The government must provide the additional resources in schools it promised.”