From the Deputy Head Master – Summer HillLucas Thurston
R U OK?
At Trinity, we take the welfare and wellbeing of your sons very seriously, and the reason we acknowledge R U OK? Day each year is to continue to destigmatise mental illness and poor mental health. Sadly, it remains statistically significant that boys and young men tend not to seek help when they are experiencing a mental health episode or for a mental health condition. At Trinity, we are unambiguously of the view that a mental illness is regarded no differently to a physical illness, insofar as there is no stigma, and we are unambiguously clear that mental health episodes and mental illnesses respond to treatment.
The Director of the TESS Counselling & Psychological Service, Ms Jessica Staniland observed to staff at morning tea yesterday, that we have an opportunity at Trinity to continue to normalise help-seeking behaviour, and to encourage our boys to speak up when they are feeling low. So, let’s use this day as a reminder to check-in with those around us, not just today, but every-day. You never know how someone is really feeling unless you ask the question, R U OK?
And in his address to the School at Quad Assembly on Thursday, William Chang (10Ar) made some very mature observations. A precis of his remarks follows.
Knowing how to ask people about their mental health and what to say next is crucial. ‘R U OK? Day’ is an excellent way to get us thinking and talking about mental health, wellbeing and keeping connected.
We all want to keep going, not worry others and do our best, so sometimes people mask their struggles, but R U OK? Day encourages us to reach out and speak up and to make time to check in and support each other. Open-ended questions such as “how’ve you been going lately?”, or “you haven’t been yourself recently – what’s up?” or “it has been busy, are you doing ok?” are a good place to start.
It’s also helpful to understand the signs which might suggest someone isn’t going well. This may include becoming withdrawn, or being more irritable and aggressive, not wanting to come to school or social catch ups, sleep problems, and finding work and the school more difficult than usual, and it’s essential to make a habit of checking in with people regularly, and that includes all of us; friends, classmates, team-mates, work mates, and family. By asking how they are openly, with genuine interest and care, we make it normal to have conversations about difficult times, mental health and wellbeing and make it easier to support each other and connect if we’re struggling.
Bradley Barr | Deputy Head Master – Summer Hill