As international students, studying abroad and settling in a new country can often be a positive and thriving experience. However, the adjustment period also presents its own set of challenges, such as culture shock, homesickness, and feelings of social isolation. These difficulties can sometimes lead to signs of distress or behavioural changes that go unnoticed or are dismissed.
While many of us want to be supportive in such times, knowing how to approach the conversation can be daunting. Should you call, text, or physically be there for someone? How can you initiate a meaningful discussion without making it awkward? This September, R U OK? Day aims to shed light on this important topic, offering guidance to individuals, institutions and businesses on how to ask that simple yet powerful question: “Are you okay?”
What is R U OK? Day
R U OK? is a public health organisation in Australia, focused on mental health and suicide prevention. It aims to help people maintain close relationships with their families and friends by offering guidance on how to talk to those who are struggling. The organisation also provides resources to boost skills like motivation and self-confidence and encourages a proactive approach to helping others.
R U OK? Day, falling on September 14, 2023, serves as a national day of action to remind all Australians to check in on their loved ones by asking, “Are you okay?” To deepen your understanding and participation in this nationwide effort, visit the R U OK? website and check out the video below.
What signs should I look out for?
When supporting people, it can be very challenging to know what signs to take note of. Luckily, R U OK? has created a helpful guide to help you identify and be aware of the different signs people may express. If you think a family member, loved one or friend may require professional support, have the courage to encourage them to connect with a trusted mental health specialist such as a doctor. If you or another person would like to seek support and education for mental health in Australia, be sure to explore this range of support options. For immediate assistance, contact Triple Zero (000) or Lifeline on 13 11 14 – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How to ask ‘R U OK?’
To help you kickstart this conversation with another person, R U OK? has provided four simple steps to follow:
- Encourage action
- Check in
To begin, we encourage you to look through their detailed guide on how to begin a chat. Free online resources, personal stories and answers to frequently asked questions are also available for additional knowledge.
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In addition to having the skills and resources to start an ‘R U OK?’ conversation, it’s essential to understand the broader impact of ‘checking in’ on people. Make it a habit to check in not just with close family and friends, but also with people you might not think of immediately—like teachers, neighbours or old school friends.
To maximise impact, spread the word and embody the ‘R U OK?’ spirit. Collectively, we can make a significant difference in supporting each member of our community—one conversation at a time.