To challenge bullying behaviour and support students in need, on March 19 Mackay Private, Robina Private, Belmont Private, Currumbin Clinic (QLD) and South Eastern Private (VIC) attended local schools to donate the friendship benches to create a safe space for children needing support from peers or teachers at school.
Healthe Care consultant psychiatrist Dr Tanveer Ahmed said the new addition to school playgrounds would spark important conversations about mental health.
“The prevalence of bullying and youth mental health issues is a national crisis, but I think buddy benches are a great social education tool and will help promote inclusion, start conversations about healthy relationships and hierarchy in the playground, and provide a place of comfort,” he said.
Healthe Care Australia Specialty Services chief executive officer, Julia Strickland-Bellamy said the provider was planned on donating 30 benches to schools across Australia, with the rollout continuing on from 'No Way Day'.
This includes Toronto Private (NSW), The Hills Clinic (NSW), Townsville Private Clinic (QLD) and Brunswick Private (VIC).
She said Healthe Care’s portfolio of mental health hospitals were strong advocates of buddy benches as the narrative they established carried with children as they grew into adolescents and adulthood.
“Research shows the majority of Australian students have been bullied and one in five of these are bullied at least weekly.
“Every student has the right to a safe and supportive schooling environment and buddy benches are a proactive way to help make a difference.
“They are simple and easy to implement yet have a significant two-fold benefit of providing a safe space for children who are feeling lonely or in need of support, and of sparking important conversations early on in life.
"When you build those blocks in childhood, you build a narrative that underpins mental health throughout the educational journey and beyond.
"We are committed to helping more schools embrace the initiative and, just as importantly, sharing our expertise to guide the discussions that go along with it.
“We are are committed to providing many more buddy benches in future, with the goal of eventually seeing every school having one in their playground.”