NSW teachers to get mental health training

Sarah Mitchell: students' health and education are too important not to have a broad safety net.
Sarah Mitchell: students' health and education are too important not to have a broad safety net.

All NSW teachers will receive mental health training under a new plan to help them identify students who need support.

"Our students' health and education are too important not to have this broad safety net," NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said in a statement on Sunday.

"Ensuring teachers have the knowledge and confidence to identify when a student needs help enables the community and school support to then wrap around the student. This will save lives and strengthen student support in our schools."

Ms Mitchell said mental health issues were increasingly impacting on the classroom.

Teachers have to complete 100 hours of professional development to maintain their accreditation.

Under the new plan, 50 of those hours will cover four priority areas. One of those will be mental health and wellbeing. The plan is a first for the state.

Ms Mitchell said she had asked the NSW Education Standards Authority to create a new professional development policy enacting the change.

The government is also rolling out more counsellors and support staff, she said.

The Labor opposition welcomed the plan as a step in the right direction but criticised the government for not going far enough.

Opposition spokeswomen Prue Car (education) and Tara Moriarty (mental health), urged the government to employ more counsellors in schools.

"Today's announcement falls short and misses the mark. The responsibility shouldn't fall on teachers, the government must provide the additional resources in schools it promised," Ms Moriarty said in a statement.

Australian Associated Press