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Dr Helen
Street

Challenging the Status Quo of Mental Health

Phd

Profile

Dr Helen Street is an internationally acclaimed educational consultant with an extensive background in social psychology. She is the founder of Positive Schools and Contextual Wellbeing, a consultant to schools worldwide, a best-selling author and an honorary fellow at The University of Western Australia.

Helen is known as a pioneer in the development and support of long-term learning engagement and wellbeing through the development of whole school systemic change and development. Her first book 'Standing Without Shoes' includes a foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Her fourth book, ‘Contextual Wellbeing’ has become an international best-seller in education.

Helen co-founded Positive Schools with Neil Porter, including the highly respected Positive Schools conference series, Positive Schools Online and consultancy services supporting Contextual Wellbeing in schools. Helen has helped schools develop Contextual Wellbeing across Australia, SE Asia, Canada and the UK. In so doing she has helped educators to embed wellbeing development in the development of their unique contexts, with the aim to support self-determination, belonging and engagement in all members of the school community.

In recent years, it has come to Helen’s attention that, despite positive mental health being a growing topic of consideration, many of us remain unsure about how we might build either wellbeing or resilience effectively and meaningfully. Her fifth book ‘The Impossible Question of Living Well’ launched in May 2024. In this new book, Helen considers wellbeing as an ability to develop healthy connections; and in so doing, she presents resilience as our ability to navigate dis-connect and change.

Helen lives in Western Australia with Neil, their three daughters and their very spoilt cavoodle, Barney.

Expertise
Talking Points

WELLBEING -Making Wellbeing Normal

Social norms are social behaviours that are unquestionably accepted, whole-heartedly enacted and socially applauded. They are the unwritten rules of life, supporting social engagement, and the drivers of ‘just the way life is’.

Social norms govern the direction of our interactions, our culture and climate and our understanding of the world. In a thriving school community, we experience norms that reflect core community values, such as norms demonstrating kindness, honesty and respect.

In this interactive workshop you will be invited to explore and understand normative development in your offices, homes and/or schools, with a firm focus on supporting the normative development of respectful relationships. In so doing, you will then be guided through a four-step process which is inherent in meaningful normative development in every social setting.

WELLBEING - Building Wellbeing in your Schools and in your Homes

Helen will discuss why and how families, workplaces and/or schools can broaden and build their wellbeing focus from the support of 'well-beings', to the development of a ‘well-context'.

This subtle shift challenges traditional views of wellbeing as an outcome that can be attained with the right knowledge and skill set. Instead, it involves understanding and developing an experience of wellbeing from a systems perspective. Wellbeing becomes most easily understood as a process of connection and re-connection within a healthy context. A healthy home, work or school context being a context that supports self-determination, autonomous motivation and positive mental health both equitably and inclusively.
A shift to considering Contextual Wellbeing leads to the ongoing creation of thriving communities. Communities that embrace a real-world consideration of the importance of context in the development of positive behaviour, a love of learning and doing, and sustained wellbeing in all community members.

FEEDBACK - Shifting our Focus from 'Good Job' to What Really Works Well

Since the dawn of positive psychology in the early 2000s, we have been encouraged to swap negatives for positives, cynicism for optimism, and appreciate what is ‘working well’, as opposed to what is not.
This positive spin on our communication with each other, and more notably on ‘how we give feedback’ has been heralded as a positive step forward in our schools, workplaces and homes. In fact, the overall ‘positive feedback’ mantra has become a largely unchallenged call to shift feedback from ‘critical’ to ‘encouraging’.
But is this shift to a more optimistic approach really working well?

Many might say “absolutely, it is all great”… but Dr Helen Street says… perhaps not.
In this provocative and thoughtful presentation, Helen will challenge current approaches to positively skewed feedback. In so doing, she will suggest important considerations for ensuring our feedback works well to support others, in every area of life.

RESILIENCE - Supporting Resilience

How can we invest in authentic relationships with others and with the things they do, while also finding a way to be resilient when those relationships are fractured or lost?
In this presentation, Helen will explore the notion of what it means to live well through good times and bad. In so doing she will challenge some of the most common myths and misconceptions about building both wellbeing and resilience. She will explore some of the ways we can learn to embrace meaningful connections more deeply; and how we can more meaningfully deal with the inevitability of challenge and loss.

Most notably, Helen will propose a shift from thinking about resiliency as a capacity to stay focused on our goals, with grit and determination; to thinking about resiliency as an ability to accept and navigate change, no matter the goals we are seeking. She will consider the impermanence of all things that matter; the stability of our values; the reality of hope; and the temptation to seek happiness at all costs.

Helen firmly believes that the more we understand and support a capacity for resilience that is epitomized by our ability to navigate change, the more effectively we can navigate our way through trauma, change and loss; and the more wholeheartedly we can experience the untold beauty of a life well lived.

STRESS MANAGEMENT - Life on Fire

Good people manage stress, great people flourish.

This full day of professional development addresses some of the most stressful issues we face in current times, and offers welcome strategies to rekindle enthusiasm and confidence in all we do.

We need to ensure that we not only manage our stress effectively, but that we give ourselves the opportunity to thrive and flourish.

If you have lost sight of the joy of life; if your workload or children are getting you down; if others’ stress has become your stress, then this is the talk for you.
Media
Feedback
Helen's [work] is imbued with huge amounts of wisdom and personal honesty... I learned much from Helen Street's words. John Marsden, Internationally Acclaimed Educator

Dr. Helen Street offers gems of wisdom on living with impermanence in all its forms: growth, change, loss, recovery, and growth again... [her work] goes straight from the author’s heart to the reader’s, with gifts that are many and deep.

Professor Richard Ryan, Co-Founder of Self-Determination Theory

Are you open to examining the established practices in your school in order to foster wellbeing, not as an ‘add on’, but as the very core of everything you believe and do? When we first discovered ‘Contextual Wellbeing’ by Helen Street, we recognised the work required to build a cohesive culture in which students and teachers could flourish.

English Schools Foundation

Are you open to examining the established practices in your school in order to foster wellbeing, not as an ‘add on’, but as the very core of everything you believe and do? When we first discovered ‘Contextual Wellbeing’ by Helen Street, we recognised the work required to build a cohesive culture in which students and teachers could flourish.

Mount Scopus Memorial College, Melbourne

Fantastic presentation that has consolidated some excellent simple, practical tools for me to implement into my life, which will effectively improve my quality of life at home and work.

Rockingham Lakes Primary School
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