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R U Okay Day focuses on importance of students’ mental health

Festival to promote self care and provide tools to help friends

Students’ mental wellbeing will be front and centre today (Thursday 13 September) when the University of Wollongong (UOW) recognises R U Okay Day.

The annual day of action, which aims to raise awareness about suicide prevention and the importance of reaching out to others, is essential to opening the conversation around mental health among the student body.

UOW Wellbeing will collaborate with Student Support to ensure students are given the tools to support those close to them, and also look after their own mental health.

The R U Okay Day Festival will put students in touch with support providers in a relaxed, informal setting.

There will be a free bacon and egg barbecue, with an interactive support wall, free massages, and a Speed Friending event. UOW Student Support, Northfields Clinic, Headspace, and Lifeline will be available to chat to students and provide them with advice and support.

During the day there will also be a Help Out A Friend workshop, a one-hour program that will help students to open conversations with their peers around mental health and wellbeing and provide them with the necessary tools to help their friends.

The connection between wellbeing and leadership will also be in the spotlight during the TedXUWollongongSalon that afternoon. Phil Preston will facilitate the event, which will explore whether wellbeing has an impact on leadership skills.

UOW Wellbeing Coordinator Rosalie Milne, who has organised the day, said that mental health concerns such as, anxiety and isolation are commonly experienced by students.

She added R U Okay Day was the perfect time to remind people of the importance of opening up conversations about mental health.

“Isolation can be very common among students, particularly around exam times. We want to ensure that students have the support they need to navigate the tough times,” Ms Milne said.

“It is also essential that students know how to reach out to their friends who might be struggling. Simply starting the conversation is the first step, and it could change the course of someone’s life.”

The festival will be held from 11.00am to 2.00pm on Duck Pond Lawn.

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