Currently, student mental health issues are highlighted all over the world. According to the Healthline news update, 39% of students are struggling with at least one mental illness. These can lead to relationship difficulties, social isolation, delinquency, and even suicide. To prevent adolescents from suffering from mental illness, many schools are educating their students to give support. One of the education programs I received from the school was called “R U OKAY?”
|Screenshot of R U OK? day notification by Wellbeing team / photo credit : Yujin Son|
R U Okay day is to be connected with people around us and encourage people to seek support and help if they need to. On this day, people acquire knowledge on mental health and learn how to support others who need help. Asking “R U Okay?” is very easy. Step one, approach the friend and ask. Starting the first question with “How are you going?” or mentioning specific parts that concerned you, like “You seem less chatty than usual. Is everything going okay?” is a good way. Step two, listen carefully with an open mind. Make sure to don’t rush the conversation, and don’t judge their experiences by how you feel. Step three, encourage action. People can also recommend some solutions. If the friend’s condition seems serious, encouraging them to see the health professional or experts is another way. Step four, a few days later, remind them about the problem and ask once more. If the problem is still not resolved yet, keep in touch with the friend continuously. If they have done nothing, take time and wait for them. They just might need time to take action. These four simple steps can solve many people’s problems. They become confident in themselves and start a new life.
|Screenshot of R U Okay day slideshow / photo credit : Yujin Son|
During the morning class assembly in my school, the teacher went through the slideshow on R U Okay day. In the slideshow, there was a section for class discussions. Students freely presented their opinion on each question. The discussion questions allowed students to acknowledge how they can approach help, support others and the challenges they’ve got during the time. The people who provide support were named “Bear” in the slideshow, and students shared their opinions on questions like “Do you have a bear? Then who is it?”, “Have you wanted to help but not sure how?” and “What stops you from helping” to expand our thoughts and share different viewpoints to get different ideas from each other. There were some answers such as “bravery”, “acceptance”, and “empathy”. Being educated in different perspectives made students more active and involved. It made the students think and consider the questions that they never thought deeply about if they didn’t get these types of questions. The re-enacting video on the process of giving help taken by the student leader was also shown to vividly present the situation and way to help. Two students were helping one girl exactly following the R U OKAY process in the video. As a closing activity, there was a small competition on creating an infographic on R U OKAY day to remind students one more time. The teacher emphasized always reaching out to the teachers, friends, or other trustable adults to look for special advice or help. The teacher also informed us who are the counsellors at the school under any stressful situation.
|[Screenshot of R U OK? day notification by Wellbeing team / photo credit : Yujin Son|
After the education, teachers and friends asked each other, “Are you okay?” was often seen. In front of the canteen, year 10 student leaders sold the R U Okay wristband for $1, and the money collected was for the charity. Many students and teachers bought wristbands that had the phrase “R U Ok?” written on them. This showed their support on the day. While walking around the school, the yellow band that people had on their wrists could be seen to the majority.
|R U OK? wristband/ photo credit : Yujin Son|
R U Okay day was the opportunity for students to reach for help and advice. The day also made people look around and ask, “Are you okay?” and listen. I hope more people are aware of R U Okay day, and at least for one day, focusing on the people around them.
Yujin Son (손유진)
Singapore Australian International School
Yujin Son email@example.com