08 SES 03 JS, Interventions to Promote Wellbeing: Schools and Community
Joint Paper Session NW 08 and NW 14
In recent years there has been a steady increase of mental abnormalities in young students reported in Germany. In 2012, the KiGGS-study investigating (mental) health during childhood and adolescence found approximately one fifth (20,2%) of children and adolescents aged between 3 to 17 years are classified at risk for mental abnormalities (Hölling et al., 2014, p. 816). This is often accompanied by poor physical health, a reduced health-related quality of life, a restricted social functionality, as well as poor academic development in school (Hölling et al., 2007, p.784). Similar results were also reported in the German HBSC-study, 2012 (Ravens-Sieberer et al., 2012, p. 4–7).
The school environment has great influence and importance on the health and well-being of pupils. In 2012 the World Health Organisation (WHO) (2012) stated that stress in school is a relevant factor in causing mental problems.
Consequently, a good atmosphere plays a central role in the health of children and adolescents and can be considered as an important protection factor for mental health (WHO, 2012,p. 53).
Thus, it appears to be beneficial for the health of children and adolescents to have a positive social and learning environment. Critical to this is the atmosphere in the classroom and the support provided by teachers and fellow students. Transparent and stable structures, as well as fair and understandable rules can contribute to shaping the living environment of school as an active field of action for teachers and pupils (BMFSFJ (Hrsg.) 2009, p. 5). Additionally, it may prove beneficial for pupils to be introduced to possible strategies to cope with stress or – if possible – to avoid stress at school.
In order that stress management and the creation of a positive atmosphere in school can occur, it is necessary that in school children and adolescents learn life skills, as well as academic knowledge. In this context Wustmann (2004) states that, resilience should be given importance for the health and health connected aspects of an individual.
“In general resilience denotes the ability to successfully cope with burdensome circumstances of life and negative consequences of stress. In this understanding resilience is mental resistance against biological, psychological and psychosocial development risk” (Wustmann, 2004, p. 192).
Through the strengthening of their resistance, children and adolescents should be enabled to realise their own resources, use them and effectively in difficult circumstances. This action ability can also be defined “empowerment” (Schaeffer & Dierks, 2012, p. 757). Additional to the ability and competence to consciously activate one's own resources, an element of resilience is reliant on the presence of a relationship to at least one adult role model. Generally this is a close family member; however, it can also be another adult role model belonging to the social environment of the child/adolescent; e.g, a teacher.
According to the protection-factors-model by Petermann and Winkel (2005), it appears to be target-aimed to strengthen the life skills of the children and adolescents in order to promote their resilience.
"The skill to come to a decision, problem-solving skill, creative thinking, critical thinking, effective communication skill, interpersonal relationship skill, self-perception, empathy as well as stress and emotion management are considered by the WHO to be life skills” (BZgA, 2009, p. 122-123).
To counteract the increase of mental abnormalities, a primary preventive intervention for children and adolescents was developed by the health insurance AOK Rheinland/Hamburg together with the German Sport University Cologne, and then investigated in form of an intervention study. The target of the intervention in the school setting was to promote the social competence of the pupils and to strengthen their mental resources.
Quilling, E. Prof. Dr. phil. Eike Quilling (graduate degree in education) is a junior professor of network and intervention management in lifestyle research and head of the Department of Movement Education and Intervention Management at the German Sport University Cologne. Her primary research interest is on network structures in movement and health promotion. Particularly with regard to health promotion in different settings she focuses on structures of prevention from the early childhood up to families and social areas. Müller, M. Merle Müller studied educational science (diploma) at the University of Hamburg and finished her study in 2010 at the Münster University with focus on young and adult education. With her minor subjects sociology, psychology, sport and human movement science she already chose the perspective of a holistic health promotion. According to her study she worked at the Münster University as well as for various companies in the field of training providers, where she was responsible for training conceptions, organization and quality management. Since 2013 she is working at the German Sport University Cologne at the Institute of Movement and Neurosciences in the department Movement Education and Intervention Management. She is currently doing her doctoral studies on the subject of prevention networks.
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