A recess picnic allowing students to eat with their friends and enjoy chatting together was one of the ways St Paul’s Catholic College, Booragul supported R U OK? Day this year.
The smiles of the students matched the brightness of the yellow clothes they wore for the day. Students spent a few minutes each day of the week learning some of the skills needed to check in on someone’s mental health.
On Monday, they learnt about the importance of initiating a conversation with a friend they might be worried about. A simple question like “R U OK?” or, “how are things?” might lead to an important discussion.
On Tuesday, students learnt about listening with an open mind and offering suggestions to encourage a conversation now or later. “I’m here to listen if you want to talk more” is a good start.
On Wednesday, students were taught skills on encouraging action. This included suggesting helpful initiatives a person could take, such as speaking to a health professional, or asking them to consider a positive step that might help begin a healing process.
On Thursday, students learnt about a checking-in strategy to follow up on earlier conversations. Questions such as, “just wanted to check in and see how you’re doing?” or “have things improved or changed since we last spoke?” might encourage further discussion.
To conclude this special week of learning about mental health, yellow drinks and snacks were served to match the yellow dress theme and to remind students of the importance of reaching out to others when we are concerned about them.
Year 6 decorated and distributed biscuits to everyone as a sweet treat to remind them to check on their friends as St Columban’s celebrated R U OK? Day.
All classes participated in activities focusing on mental health and ways to check on friends to see if they are OK, and what to do if they are not.
We were reminded that we should check on our friends, listen without judgment, and seek help from an adult at home or at school if we feel the problem is too big to handle ourselves.
Our Year 1 class created a beautiful video.
A challenging year for everyone has highlighted the need for us to stay connected and look after one another.
On R U OK? Day, the national day of action, we were reminded that every day is the day to ask, “are you OK?” if someone in your world is struggling with life’s ups and downs.
The R U OK? Day website, www.ruok.org.au, says:
“If you feel like something’s not quite the same with someone you know – there’s something going on in their life or you notice a change in what they’re saying or doing – trust that gut instinct and take the time to ask them ‘are you OK?’ If someone says they’re not OK, make time to listen, encourage action and check in.”
Each year on 11 September we also have White Balloon Day to raise awareness for the prevention of child sexual abuse and exploitation. This is held during National Child Protection Week, 6-12 September. Further information can be found at www.officeofsafeguarding.org.au and www.napcan.org.au
These two special days help protect children, young people, and adults alike. They raise awareness and encourage action that positively contributes to their safety, health, and welfare.
I reiterate the words of Paralympian Kurt Fearnley, who I heard speak last year:
“In the most challenging times and biggest struggles, you need to ask for help and talk to people. We all need to be carried at times.”
It is then up to your loved ones and friends to listen, act and check in on you because “there’s more to say after, are you OK?”
Let’s make a pledge to stay connected and truly look after one another. “The strength of community will always get us through.” Kurt Fearnley again.
Year Coordinator, Nicole Lovern and her Year 8 team did a tremendous job brightening up the school to recognise this important day, as did our “mural girls”. The chalk messages were inspiring.
Although it is our national day of action, the St Clare’s community is conscious of reminding Australians that every day is the day to ask “R U OK?” if someone in your world is struggling with life’s ups and downs.
In their PDHPE classes, our Year 9 students were required to present a proposal on what R U OK? Day could look like at St Bede’s.
From this, four students – Arshdeep Kaur, Astha Uppal, Eaden Dawson and Ciara Capper-Proctor – were selected to lead their ideas across the week. This included a Wellbeing Lesson before the day in which the whole school participated in their homerooms. This involved introducing R U OK? Day to the students, an interview with our college psychologist Thibaut Huens, and providing tips on having conversations about mental health. Each student then wrote a small word of encouragement to those who aren’t OK, which combined, made up a mural for display.
On R U OK? Day, the students were greeted with music and balloons to raise awareness. During break there were some games with R U OK? Day merchandise as the prizes and a Kahoot to educate the students about R U OK? Day.
The aim of the day was to create a sense of community among the staff and students and to know, first, there is more to say after R U OK? and second, that a conversation could change a life. Everyone fully embraced the day, and our four Year 9 students should be commended on facilitating such a great initiative.