HUNTER students are being quizzed on a few additional and important matters when they arrive at The Green Room for their music, English and maths tuition and life coaching sessions.
The Green Room director Matt Purcell said the Warners Bay business is encouraging every student to spend a few minutes before each session on their mental health, by using youth wellbeing platform iYarn to check how they're feeling about areas of life, such as family, friends, fitness, schoolwork and hobbies.
"Our philosophy has always been that we get to spend 30 minutes to an hour with every student per week and we consider that to be in their inner circle," Mr Purcell said.
"We're part of their world, so we want to use that proximity and our presence well to be good role models.
"It's about having a very intentional relationship that aims to positively impact kids' decision making, their self esteem, be someone to talk to when things aren't going right or about what to do when they are making choices.
"We're in between a parent, teacher and friend. I've made it part of our mantra and service that we always ask questions about things outside of their topic of tuition, we check in."
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Mr Purcell said iYarn asks students to rate how they feel about areas of life on a numerical scale.
When students answer with a low number the platform sends a notification to the tutor, who can start a conversation about how they're feeling and bring parents in, too.
"Families sometimes need to be like detectives, they need clues, they need to know because kids don't always give it away, sometimes they're the last people to be told something is wrong," he said.
"My hope for families is the data will confirm or not confirm certain intuition, so parents may say 'I know something is off, but I just don't know what it is' and if we can help surface those, get more specific and help create clarity for families so they are able to go 'It might be his friend group, I was thinking about that', then they can take necessary steps to enrol them in different social groups outside of school or make interventions."
Mr Purcell said the tool would gather data to show students how their feelings change over time and compared to other students their age, as well as to identify what further support students may need.
"We'll show them - with no names - but just say 'Hey listen, here's what 80 kids said at your age, where they're at', and it will show them they're not alone.
"When you live online a lot, people type more than they talk, so when you're going through struggles and you peek out the door and you're looking to see if anyone else is struggling and everyone they see is living picture perfect lives, they think they're the problem."
He said poor wellbeing or mental health could be a barrier to or distraction from achievement, which he said was only one ingredient to happiness.
"We see and hear on the ground level kids just crumbling under expectation," he said.
"They're achievement driven machines... but if you're not happy when you're alone, if you're not doing things you enjoy, then you'll end up living a miserable life."
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