Two north Brisbane chaplains are grabbing the microphone and taking the RU OK? message to Year 6 students at Undurba State School on National RU OK? Day today.
R U OK? is a national movement where everyone is encouraged to meaningfully connect with others by asking if they are okay in a bid to support those struggling with life.
Student leaders and staff from Murrumba State Secondary College will walk down the road to Undurba State School to help facilitate activities focused on the RU OK? Day messages and initiatives with about 150 Year 6 students.
Undurba State School and Murrumba State Secondary College chaplains, Beck Holloway and Steph Sweetman, will be MCing the event, which will include activities with the year 6s exploring how to notice when someone is not emotionally doing well, and how to practically help them if they are not.
“Both our schools were approached about running an RU OK? Day event because both schools have been recognised in doing effective work around well-being and promoting positive mental health,” Chappy Beck said.
The chappies said school chaplains can play a big role in supporting people in the school community.
“I think chaplains can help students identify when they or a friend is struggling with mental health issues and chaplains can be a vital bridge between the student and professional mental health agencies and/or other safe adults in their lives,” Chappy Steph said.
Chappy Steph remembers what it was like to be a kid, struggling through the day.
“I experienced pretty severe bullying when I was in school and I felt like I didn’t really have a safe adult to go to, one that would champion me in the situation. That has played a big part in my journey to becoming a chaplain,” she recalled.
“Even if an adult hadn’t been able to stop the bully, it would have been so beneficial to have a safe adult coach me through self care practices, building resilience and believing in my own potential that would have saved me battling with depression.
“Now as a chaplain, I look for opportunities to journey with staff and students and take the time to respond to indicators that may be present that says to me something might not be right for that person or there is a need I may be able to help with.”
Chappy Beck agreed.
“For me at Undurba it’s about being available and approachable so that if there is a need to talk to someone, the chaplain comes to their mind, whether that be a student, staff member or parent or carer,” she said.
“RU OK? Day is so important to me because as a chaplain there is no greater privilege than to be able to step into a situation, journey with a student and support them.”
Undurba Principal Kylie Smith said fostering a caring environment was one of the most important things at the school.
“An important part of our caring community is our amazing Chaplain who plays a huge role in looking out for and supporting the well-being and mental health of staff, students and community families,” she said.
“Beck Holloway, our chaplain, is perfectly suited to assist in facilitating this special event as she is skilled in leading fun activities for students and also is a familiar face that students can check in with anytime if they want to discuss the issues discussed on the day or if they are facing other challenges in their lives.
“Having people like Beck, who shows such care and concern at our school ensures anyone in need of support, or even just a listening ear is always heard and helped to solve problems and access what they need to get back on track.”
The chaplains said the impact of RU OK? Day events and activities will reach far beyond a single day.
“Having a day like this has far reaching effects in that it sets a precedence that this is something the school cares about, it is something that affects everyone and it is OK to talk about it. Knowing that what they might be going through isn’t isolated to just them might be the one thing that helps them to say no, I’m not ok,” chappy Beck said.
“Please speak up if you’re not ok and remember that we (as in the school) care about mental health. I also want the students to know who is available to help so they are not scared to ask someone.”