Boys at Risk, OCT'09

Boys at Risk Conference

Shore School, North Sydney, NSW
25–26 October 2009

Now more than ever, schools are expected not only to provide an academic education for boys, but also to care for their social and emotional well-being. This is becoming an increasingly complex task, in a context where anxiety and depression rates continue to rise in young people. One estimate is that one in ten young people experience a social or emotional problem significant enough to impair functioning. In a school environment, this is compounded by the fact that we can expect boys to be more highly represented than girls with oppositional difficulties, reading and expressive language difficulties, autism spectrum disorders and attention difficulties, all which add an additional dimension to other emotional challenges.

How can boys' schools ensure that we meet the specific mental health challenges of the boys in our care? The International Boys School Coalition is hosting a conference to address this theme. The conference is aimed at all staff in schools with an interest in, or responsibility for the emotional well being of boys, including Principals, Heads of Pastoral Care, School Counselors, Year/House Coordinators, Chaplains, School Nurses and any teacher with a pastoral care role.

The Conference will be opened by Professor Gordon Parker. Gordon Parker is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales and was instrumental in establishing the Black Dog Institute which leads research into mood disorders in Australia. Other presentations include:

  • Managing suicidal behaviour in schools
  • School management of self harm and suicidal behaviour
  • Strategic classroom management of boys with mental health problems
  • Mind Matters - The Commonwealth Government's response to mental health in schools
  • Mental health in primary aged boys
  • The unique mental health challenges of boys in rural and regional areas


Shore School - 1:00 pm on 25th October, 2009

Dress for all sessions, including Conference Dinner: smart casual

Sunday 26 October

2:00 PM Opening Session

Mood Disorders in Young Men Prof. Gordon Parker.
Gordon Parker is a leading international expert on depression and mood disorders. He is Scientia Professor of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales and Executive Director of the Black Dog Institute at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney. In 2004 he received a Citation Laureate as the Australian Scientist most highly cited in the field of 'Psychiatry/Psychology'. His research has focused on modeling psychiatric conditions (depressive, bipolar and personality disorders) and examining causes, mechanisms and treatments for mood disorders.

3:30 PM

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Session:
4:00 PM to 6 PM

Paper 1: What Schools Need to Know about Boys and Anxiety Jonathan Gaston.
Jonathan is the Clinic Director of the Macquarie University Anxiety Research Unit. He is responsible for the design of group treatment interventions for anxiety disorders and co-ordination of the day-to-day running of the adult and child anxiety clinics. His research interests include the assessment and treatment of social phobia, panic disorder, blood-injury phobia, stress and burnout and fear-based procrastination.

Paper 2: Youth Mental Health First Aid for Schools: Core Concepts and Implementation Dr Claire Kelly.
Claire Kelly is the coordinator of the Youth Mental Health First Aid Program at the ORYGEN Research Centre, University of Melbourne. Claire completed PhD studies in adolescent mental health literacy in 2005, and has since been working on projects to develop international Mental health First Aid. Claire’s particular interests are in mental health and the mental health literacy of adolescents, and up-skilling young people and the adults around them to respond appropriately to emerging mental health problems.
6:00 PM to 7:30 PM Drinks and Conference Dinner- Shore School Dining Hall.

Monday 27 October

Joint Session
9:00 AM
School Management of Self Harm and Suicidal Behaviour in Schools. - Lydia Senediak. Lydia is a Clinical Psychologist who has spent the last 20 years working in the area of mental health - both in private practice and with a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in Sydney. Her particular current clinical and research interests are in the treatment of depression, grief, anxiety, deliberate self-harm and suicidal behaviour in teenagers.
Morning Tea 10:00 AM
Morning Workshops
10:45 AM

Five parallel workshops on Mental Health in Schools

  1. Strategic Classroom management of Boys with Mental Health Problems Ross Black, Principal of Rivendell School, Sydney. Rivendell School is part of the Rivendell Child, Adolescent and Family Mental Health Services, a joint Department of Health and Department of Education and Training facility that focuses on mental health problems for young people and their families.
  2. Mental Health in Primary Aged Boys Jane Sleeman. Jane is a Registered Psychologist in a Private Practice that specialises in depression, anxiety and chronic illness. She is the Founder of Hollyhox Positive Resources and Director of Inside Out Psychology. Jane has a wealth of experience working with young people and their families, having also worked as a Teacher and School Counsellor.
  3. The Unique Mental Health Challenges of Boys in Rural and Regional Areas– Bruce Paine. Bruce is Student Counsellor at Kinross Wolaroi School in Orange , a large regional city located 4 hours drive west of Sydney. Kinross Wolaroi is a co-educational boarding school of 1200 students of whom nearly 400 are boarders drawn primarily from the regional areas of New South Wales.
  4. MindMatters – The Commonwealth Government’s Response to Mental Health in Schools . MindMatters is a national mental health initiative for secondary schools funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing and implemented by Principals Australia (formerly APAPDC). MindMatters uses a whole school approach to mental health promotion based on the principles of the World Health Organization's Global School Health Initiative and the Australian National Health Promoting Schools Framework.
  5. Connecting Schools with Community-based Mental Health Services Danielle Thomas. Danielle is a Registered Psychologist and Coordinator of the School-link Program for the Northern Sydney Sector of the Northern Sydney Central Coast Area Health Service. The School-Link initiative aims to improve the early identification and treatment of mental health problems in children and adolescents in schools and TAFEs across NSW.
1:30 PM 1:45 PM

Afternoon Workshop: A repeat of the morning workshops

3:00 PM Closing Address