R U OK? Day
On Tuesday, all students and staff came together to support R U OK? Day with an assembly in the SAC.
The students came to school dressed in yellow and a group of Year 8 students were responsible for running the assembly. The students were encouraged to ask their friends and family 'R U OK?' and be ready to talk with them about how they are feeling.
Asking “R U OK?” in a country where the cultural psyche is to downplay pain, these three little words can have monumental power. To have a conversation with someone whom you suspect is not traveling so well - even if you don’t know exactly what to say - you can still give a tremendous amount of support by asking the question and listening. While not everyone is willing to open up when they are struggling - even when they do have a strong support network - we cannot underestimate the potency of letting others know that we are there for them and that we care.
Staying connected with others is crucial to our general health and wellbeing, while feelings of isolation or hopelessness can contribute to depression and other mental illnesses.
R U OK? Day aims to show that regular, meaningful conversations can protect those we know and love, as well as raise awareness of mental health and suicide, and help people develop the verbal skills to check in with friends, family and colleagues.
How to ask 'Are you OK?'
- ALEC: Ask, Listen, Encourage action (which may simply mean assisting someone towards support), Check in (stay in touch and be there for them).
- Trust your gut: Expect people to minimise and say they are OK when they are not. Our psyche is to minimise, deny and avoid in the space of mental health. Trust your gut reaction – if you know someone well, be gently persistent.
- Don't assume: We see someone in a high-performing role, doing well at school, or someone with a great family, and we make assumptions. But mental health problems does not discriminate - it can affect anyone. How someone is presenting on the outside is often very different to how they are feeling on the inside.
- Real-time conversations and connections matter: A text does not cut it if someone is really struggling. It's effectiveness versus efficiency - it might be more efficient to send a text message, but is it more effective?
- Take initiative: Don't wait for someone to come to you before you ask how they are. Do not rely on the person who's not traveling so well to come to you. Take the burden off them and invite them into that conversation. That's what makes a tremendous difference in connecting people when they feel disconnected.
A special thanks to Ted Paige Walker, Harvey Beckley, Madeleine Benson, Eliza Bell, George Maroulis, Luka Currell for their amazing work in presenting the assembly and to Hudson Long for his photographic skills.
Naomi Gibbons and Tim 'Chappy' Blackhall
Middle School - Highton Chaplains