All News

News and Media

Building Resilience By Ashley de Silva, CEO of ReachOut

Setbacks, problems and failures are an inevitable part of life. Since 2020, COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the lives of students, parents and teachers across Australia. We have had to adapt to all the changes to our normal routines and activities and learn to cope with things like online learning, study stress and uncertainty about the future. 

ReachOut is a mental health service that’s been providing support for young people, their parents and schools for more than 20 years. During this time we’ve heard from countless young people, parents, teachers, school staff and mental health professionals about what helps them to stay happy and well. A key theme we’ve heard again and again is the importance of resilience – a theme that’s backed up by science.

The term ‘resilience’ actually comes from materials in science and engineering. It relates to how much pressure and stress different materials can withstand before being compromised in some way. When we use the term ‘resilience’ at ReachOut, we’re talking about the ability of people and communities to adapt and keep going when faced with adversity. Resilience helps us not only to recover from stress, but to excel in life – be that in the classroom, in the staff room or at home.

An example that’s commonly used to illustrate resilience is a rubber band, which can be put under stress by being stretched and pulled in all directions, without breaking, then reverts to its original shape as soon as the pressure or stress is removed.

Individuals who are resilient share certain traits. These include emotional awareness, the ability to regulate their emotions, to maintain an optimistic outlook, to be flexible in their thinking and to display empathy towards others. They also believe that they can achieve things and are willing to seek help when needed.

Significantly, all of these traits can be learnt not just by students, but also by teachers, parents and others in the school community. Resilience is something we can all continue to build and cultivate throughout our lives.

Having a resilient school community helps reduce the impact that negative situations can have on individuals and those around them. We know this may feel like a challenging goal, though, and it’s not always clear how we can achieve it in practice.

Two practical approaches that teachers, parents and young people can use to develop resilience are encouraging help seeking and sharing stories. 

A vital part of building resilience is learning to recognise when we need additional support and then seeking help. We all need help at times. Resilient people know when to ask for help and will reach out to others when they’re going through a tough time.

Making sure that school staff, parents, teachers and young people know where to seek help when it comes to their mental health is key. This could be having posters up at school about mental health support services, providing information about mental health support in school newsletters or having regular conversations about support services.

Critically, there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to mental health support. It’s helpful to o!er different options, including connecting with a professional in person, calling a helpline, talking to someone you trust, or engaging with an online service such as ReachOut.

Another effective way to build resilience across the school community is to find ways, both formally and informally, to share people’s stories of experiencing and overcoming knock-backs and failures. This can include giving students a platform to share their stories with each other, but also encouraging them to hear their parents’ and teachers’ stories, too.

These practical examples are thought starters for ways in which your school community can encourage and promote resilience to ensure that everyone can benefit from this vital mental health tool.

For more information and support, visit: (youth), and Schools.

If you need further support when it comes to your mental health, you can call LifeLine on 13 11 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, contact your GP, or call 000 in an emergency. At you can find articles, tips, online communities and pathways to further support. 


You found one!

You now only have 2 more to find. next clue