Social and emotional wellbeing programs: the nexus between sustainability and quality assurance
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When social-emotional wellbeing programs are well-implemented, positive changes in students' mental health and self-regulatory social-emotional capabilities can eventuate. However, a problematic area of program implementation is sustainability once the supports and resources of the 'start-up' phases of new initiatives fade away. It is increasingly recognised that quality assurance procedures are necessary during the delivery of new programs. However, it appears that procedures for quality assurance of the sustainability components of programs have been relatively neglected. In this paper we investigate whether and why the KidsMatter Primary Mental Health Promotion initiative in Australia was sustained in schools one year after completion of the pilot phase. Thematic analysis indicated a range of facilitators and barriers to sustainability, and that many, but not all, schools continued to identify themselves as 'KidsMatter' schools. We propose a framework to guide a continuous cycle of quality assurance processes, with a specific focus on assuring program sustainability. We argue that more practical and conceptual work needs to be undertaken to develop tools and processes for explicit quality assurance of the sustainability components of mental health promotion and social-emotional wellbeing initiatives in educational settings.