MENS REMAP A mind-body approach to boys wellbeing at The Southport School

Posted: 21 October 2021


The Southport School is a world class day and boarding school for boys. We work with families to nurture outstanding young men who are confident with intelligent dispositions and advanced skills in academics, creativity and higher-order thinking, enriched by the principles of Positive Psychology.

The Southport School views wellbeing through a holistic lens with a mind-body-spirit approach designed to promote resilience and nurture a state of optimal health referred to as flourishing. This concept is captured in the term ‘Wellbeing Health’, and is inclusive of the physical, social, cognitive, academic, spiritual and emotional wellbeing of the individual.

Wellbeing Health was established to educate our students around strategies to care for their mind and body. In collaboration with TSS Counselling and academic staff, Wellbeing Health provides implicit and explicit learning opportunities to teach students the pillars of ‘MENS REMAP’. These pillars combine the framework of positive psychology (PERMA) with national health priorities that are of relevance to young males.


Our Wellbeing Health offerings aim to address mental and physical health issues prevalent among young Australian males, and are aligned to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Good Health and Wellbeing by promoting sustainable and positive health practices across all ages. As such, we developed a specific framework around mental health and wellbeing with the pillars of Mindfulness, Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep, relationships, Engagement, Meaning and Purpose – or ‘MENS REMAP’.

REMAP is an anagram of Positive Psychology’s PERMA model. Our former Headmaster, Mr Greg Wain, was the mastermind behind introducing positive psychology to TSS in 2014 and felt the students would remember the acronym better if it was a meaningful word. We now encourage the boys to remap their neural pathways by using positive psychology strategies.

Mindfulness: Mindfulness teaches our boys how to focus attention on the present, with gentle compassion. We encourage boys of all ages to practice mindfulness daily, with higher frequency of daily practice preferred over lengthy once a day meditation.

Exercise: Our National Guidelines for Physical Activity recommend that children and adolescents engage in 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day involving mainly aerobic activities that increase heart rate. Regular exercise promotes mental and physical health by improving muscle and bone strength, cardiovascular fitness, weight maintenance, self-esteem and the release of feel-good chemicals such as Endorphins. Our students engage in a wide range of physical activities including basketball, soccer, netball, lap swimming, skipping, running, or simply running around a park with a friend and a ball.

Nutrition: We take every opportunity to explicitly and implicitly teach the functionality of food for our health, as well as the importance of sustainable eating for our mind, body and planet.

Sleep: Sleep is essential for muscle and brain recovery, and supports learning, memory consolidation, skill development, general health and wellbeing.

There are many factors within our control that can positively influence the quality and quantity of our sleep including: exposure to light; what we eat and drink (e.g., total energy intake, caffeine and sugar consumption); device use; room temperature and air flow; and physical activity.

Relationships: Positive relationships and social connectedness are integral to our overall wellbeing and resilience. When dealing with a stressful life situation, knowing that you have someone to lean on can help to: reduce the impact of the stressor; encourage perspective; prevent a reliance on unhelpful coping styles; and produce positive emotions.

When we practice self-care through our MENS pillars, we become more aware of our own needs, and as a result are more capable of positively connecting, supporting and leading others.

Engagement: When consciously absorbed in an activity or task that combines concentration, interest and enjoyment – we are in a state of flow. By actively finding sources of interest and passion in our lives, we can significantly boost self-esteem, optimism, self-control and life satisfaction.

We encourage students to practice this by absorbing their focus into something they love every day. This may include academics, sport, cultural and house activities, music, drama or art.

Meaning and Purpose: Ikigai, a Japanese concept meaning ‘reason for being’, has been identified as the secret to longevity for people living in blue zones such as Okinawa. ‘Ikigai’ is cultivated by exploring one’s passions and signature strengths, and expressing them in a way that serves something greater than the self, while also contributing to the greater good of others.

We encourage students to regularly immerse themselves into a new activity, team, group or cause that they value or is of importance to them.

Achievement: We encourage our students to embrace and celebrate the challenges, as well as the small wins associated with the pursuit of their goal/s with grit, perseverance, optimism and a willingness to learn from all experiences.

Positive Emotion: Emotions play a significant role in our lives. Positive emotions such as joy, love, hope and contentment, have been suggested to motivate us to being open to new ideas, people and actions. This openness can allow us to broaden our horizons, learn new information and grow as individuals.

We encourage all students to initiate, notice and savour the positives in each day to optimise their wellbeing. This can be achieved by listing ‘Three Great Things’, replaying happy moments in our mind or by stepping outdoors and enjoying nature.


TSS puts these MENS REMAP concepts into practice using school-based intervention programs in line with research suggesting their efficacy in preventing mental and physical illness in both the short and long-term:

Zen Zone: A fun and interactive program utilising games and activities to increase student engagement with mindfulness-based practices. This program is open to Years 2-6 during lunch time breaks.

Teen Mental Health First Aid: Our senior school psychologists are accredited instructors who facilitate this training program. Upon completion, students receive a nationally accredited certification in: identifying common warning signs of mental illness; learning practical skills on how to support a person in need; and advice on how to get someone to appropriate help. The Youth Mental Health First Aid training is also facilitated in-house to key pastoral care staff across boarding, academics, sports and Housemaster roles.

Promoting Positive Behaviour – Parenting Program: Facilitated by our accredited Positive Parenting psychologist and the prep psychologist, this program is founded on evidence-based and practical parenting strategies from UQ’s Triple P Program. The program teaches skills to build confidence in: managing your child’s behaviour; setting family rules and routines; developing positive relationships to reduce arguing; raising happy, healthy and confident children; balancing work and family without stress; and creating a happy, safe environment where your family can thrive.

Recharge Room: A dedicated ‘silent’ space where Senior boys can put theory into practice by power napping or engaging in self-directed meditation. This allows them to experience the benefits associated with a short daytime sleep including enhanced mood, energy, focus and concentration.

Life-Fit-Learning: Developed in collaboration with Griffith University, this online wellbeing assessment identifies year level trends in social, psychological, academic and health domains. This assessment is conducted annually for Years 4 to 12. The captured data helps to inform the efficacy of current wellbeing health programs and the possible need for further programs the following year.

Stymie: An online external agency designed to promote anonymous reporting of issues to preserve student wellbeing and student protection. Stymie encourages students to support their peers by making anonymous notifications about a student who might be at risk of harm either through bullying, abuse, violence, exploitation, self-harm or suicidality. Students are encouraged to make positive choices as bystanders around how they respond to bullying and harm in our community, and to use this reporting service responsibly and thoughtfully to make a positive difference.

Kimochis: A social-emotional learning program that teaches students about what each emotion looks and feels like through role play and puppetry. We discuss coping strategies for hard-to-have emotions, such as the ‘maybe next time’ arm swing when feeling disappointed, or the calm down breath when feeling mad. Students are able to quickly connect with, learn new strategies, and improve their emotional literacy from the gorgeous collection of Kimochi characters which include Lovey Dove, Cloudy, Bug, Huggtopus and Cat.

MENS Menu: In collaboration with our caterer, Chartwells, we have developed a brand new canteen menu. MENS menu aligns with our MENS pillars and is designed to promote the functionality of whole foods on the health, mood, longevity and restoration of the body. Before purchasing a meal, boys are encouraged to check-in with their body to determine which pillar they would benefit most from eating. For example, boys who have busy training schedules with high energy needs would do well to eat menu offerings from the ‘E’- Exercise pillar that day.

Nourish: A practical and interactive nutrition program designed to teach students about sustainable dietary approaches targeted at improving male health outcomes. Each session consist of a group discussion and cooking component around a prevalent men’s health issue and specific nutrients that are scientifically proven to reduce the risk of that illness. This program is led by our Wellbeing Health Promotion Officer who is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian.

Crunch&Sip: A daily 5-10 minute vegetable and water classroom break to support the development of positive daily eating habits. This program is supported by the following initiatives delivered by the Wellbeing Health Promotions Officer:

Fruit & Vegetable Workshops:  An interactive rainbow demonstration with group discussion around health benefits, texture, flavour and cooking methods for various fruits and veggies.

Lunchbox Workshops: Interactive sessions where students learn how to build their own healthy lunchbox using the Eat for Health flip books.


We know that our boys in general are: proud of their school; compassionate; eat enough fruit; resilient; grateful; and getting enough exercise. However, there is room for improvement around: demonstrating a growth mindset (Yrs 4-8), eating more vegetables, drinking enough water, and reducing device use time on weekends. The above interventions are designed to assist.


To walk through the campus and see weekly classes of boys engaging in mindful meditations or yoga on the campus lawns increases the visibility of wellbeing within our school. Whilst we provide education around the theory and science behind MENS REMAP, our key objective is on participation and practice. Seeing wellbeing practiced in and around our school elevates the importance of wellbeing as a daily priority in our life and shows that it is achievable as well.

I’ve been the Director of Wellbeing Health for five years now and feel tremendously privileged to work in an all-boys’ boarding school. Working with a single gender allows us to develop targeted preventative programs specifically focused on the health issues faced by young males. Males like things that are uncomplicated and effective. They like to see results quickly and MENS provides practical strategies that offer immediately rewarding, positive effects. REMAP also provides positive effects but pillars such as Meaning and Purpose and Relationships take time to cultivate.  MENS REMAP offers the best of both worlds with both short and long-term wellbeing rewards. Whilst it is our lead Wellbeing Health program, it is by no means the only program we run in our wellbeing space. It does, however, underpin our holistic approach to wellbeing through a mind-body-spirit connection. We love it because it is simple to remember and we can also tease apart sections of the acronym and focus events and Wellbeing Days on a single pillar such as Sleep, which provides great diversity and interest to our program offerings.

My strongest desire is to offer this generation of young men the opportunity to learn habits of health that lower their risk of common preventable diseases such as mental illness or cardiovascular disease. I sincerely hope we are supporting our students with a foundation of knowledge and practical experience that they can draw upon as they transition into caring husbands, fathers and citizens of the planet. That, as adults, they may understand the value of wellbeing and the strategies that work best for them in caring for it, is the ultimate goal in wellbeing education.



Author: Dr Angela Zagoren Director of Counselling & Wellbeing Health  |  Senior Psychologist The Southport School 

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