How to create environments for healthy minds

Create inviting, safe and engaging physical spaces to promote mental health.
Jun 29, 2021
Spaces separate from the hurley burley of school life.

Half of all mental health conditions have started by age 14, with one in seven young people aged 4 to 17 years experiencing a mental health condition in any given year.

In response, school communities can create inviting, safe and engaging physical spaces to help students navigate the busy school day and support students.

Since 2012, Smiling Mind has been providing tools which develop life-long social and emotional skills with programs and resources designed specifically for school environments, including the Smiling Mind Mindfulness Curriculum, Smiling Mind app meditations and activities, as well as educator, parent and leadership training.

Smiling Mind is extending their work in Australian primary schools, with the introduction of Smiling Mind Space, partnering with Dulux.

Developed by Smiling Mind psychologists in collaboration with Dulux colour experts and wellbeing educators from around Australia, The smiling mind spaces Toolkit is a guidebook to help whole-school communities imagine and create healthier places to live, play, work and learn.

Spaces are often defined by the activities we do in them. We have spaces for eating, sleeping, playing, teaching and meeting, for example. As such, we might find it more difficult to cultivate the qualities of mindfulness in a space associated with activity and energy. The designation of a space for mindfulness activities and social and emotional learning is important, as it provides a safe and associated area dedicated to such practices.

The practical guide integrates five core themes from the Smiling Mind Mindfulness Curriculum and pairs these with curated colour palettes developed by Dulux, along with tips for where and how to create your own unique space.

The toolkit includes advice on where you could create a Smiling Mind Space at your school, Smiling Mind meditations and activities for students and educators, in-school activities and informal mindfulness practices for each space and a unique paint colour palette, inspired by Dulux, and how to use the palette.

The Richmond West school community in Melbourne have integrated mindfulness into their classrooms and seek to integrate mindfulness into daily practice.

“Richmond West has a school-wide daily mindfulness session after lunch. This helps children and teachers transition from the busy-ness of play time back into the classroom. The Smiling Mind session is played over the PA. The quiet across the school is amazing,” says principal of Richmond West, Tip Kennedy.

“The new Smiling Mind Space is in our library. It will be used as a quiet corner for reading, reflection, and mindfulness practice. It is a space for students, parents, and staff. I hope the experience of awareness that students have in the space is one they can carry with them throughout the day.”

“Our school values the harmonious culture of respect and understanding which is visible in our diverse community. Awareness is a fundamental skill for mindfulness and the mindset which helps develop an understanding of self and others. We explicitly teach self-regulation and positively reinforce those behaviours in children, which create good relationships between people in the community.”