Each year we join Australian schools in celebrating R U OK?Day. Our programs encourage students to support each other in meaningful ways and stay connected with their communities, families, teachers, classmates and friends. On Thursday the 14th of September we’re calling on all Australians to let the people you care about know you’re here, to really hear them.
Here are four ways to share this important message and get your school community involved in R U OK?Day.
1. Learn about the theme of R U OK?Day 2023
This year R U OK? conducted research into what a meaningful conversation looks like for Australians in 2023. What would help you to open up, be vulnerable and share your true feelings?
Three key themes emerged from this research:
- Trust: people feel more comfortable having a conversation with someone they trust, and preferably someone they are close to;
- Authenticity: people want to know the person asking them genuinely wants to hear their answer and is really willing to listen;
- Environment: people prefer to have these conversations in a private space with enough time to share what they want to say.
Asking R U OK? is the first step, but we also need to genuinely listen to what comes next. By taking the time for an R U OK? conversation and genuinely listening with an open mind, we can all help the people in our world feel more supported and connected. Visit ruok.org.au/2023-ruokday-resources to learn more about this year’s theme.
2. Start a conversation
As a school staff member you may find yourself in a position where you are offering support to colleagues, students and families. One of the best ways to support R U OK?Day is to provide genuine support to people in your school community and be informed about how to have these often challenging conversations.
You may notice changes in what someone is saying or how they’re behaving, for example. Are they more withdrawn than usual? Are they expressing feelings of hopelessness or loneliness? Is there something going on in their life, like a family break-up or a period of change at school, work or home?
Make sure you choose a suitable place and time to have the conversation, and be prepared for their answer to be “no, I’m not OK”.
It can useful to remember the four R U OK? steps to help guide the conversation:
Step 1: Ask R U OK?
Step 2: Listen with an open mind
Step 3: Encourage action
Step 4: Check in
R U OK? also has a ‘Staffroom Conversation Guide’ available on their Education Resources page. This practical guide will help you build confidence and empower you as a help-giver, so you can contribute to a culture that ensures all members of your school community feel safe and supported.
3. Host an R U OK? event or activity at your school
Hosting an event is a great way to bring students, staff and parents together and share the R U OK? message. You could organise a special sporting event, morning tea, sausage sizzle, fundraiser or staff wellbeing activity. Many schools schedule a range of activities on R U OK?Day, with external providers delivering workshops, presentations or performances to spark conversations throughout the day.
On R U OK?Day Brainstorm Productions will be performing to over 1200 students across VIC, NSW, ACT and QLD. Brainstorm is an R U OK? School Partner and each show explores themes of help-seeking, positive connections and peer support aligned with the R U OK? messaging. Our actors will be discussing R U OK?Day with students in the post-performance discussion, and teachers will have the opportunity to continue these conversations in the classroom using our curriculum-linked lesson plans.
Brookside P-9 College has been celebrating R U OK?Day for many years, with a whole week of wellbeing activities surrounding this event. “We’ve noticed that it has built a positive mental health culture within the school” the staff told R U OK? “It continues to promote seeking support and encouraging others to check-in with their friends. Students are aware of the message of R U OK?Day and can identify these steps.”
Our actors Steph and Tobin performed at Brookside on R U OK?Day last year. This beautiful mural pictured above, painted by local artist Tim Sta-Ana, is a constant reminder for the students, staff and school community to continue asking, “are you OK?” all year round.
4. Use the R U OK? classroom resources
R U OK? has a fantastic library of classroom resources for primary and secondary students. These resources are mapped to the Australian Curriculum and can be used on R U OK?Day and throughout the school year to support your school’s mental health and wellbeing learning outcomes.
The resources include lesson plans, activities, presentations, posters and videos, including the ‘How to Ask a Schoolmate R U OK?’ video for high school students, produced with Brainstorm Productions.
Photos from the week
See what our actors have been up to in the week leading up to R U OK?Day 2023, performing in schools across NSW, QLD, VIC and ACT.