Mental health is important for all ages
12 September 2019
R U OK?Day is a reminder of the importance to check in on each other.
R U OK? Day is a national day of action to remind everyone that you can ask “Are you ok?” on any day and support those struggling with life’s ups and down, including children.
Asking ‘R U OK?’ is an opportunity to build connection, no matter what the response, it shows care and concern, and helps people feel valued.
This year’s theme is ‘Trust the Signs, Trust your Gut & Ask R U OK?’.
Our body gives us signals when something is not OK. Because we are wired to tend to and befriend others it also gives us signals if someone else might not be ok.
Children are not immune from experiencing psychological distress, mental health problems and mental illness, yet often go years before they receive treatment.
The adults in children’s lives need to be in tune with this, trust their gut feelings and check in with the children in their lives.
R U OK? is applicable to all ages and there are resources available to help children look out for one another and lend support, including two videos aimed at Kindergarten to Year 6.
In, How to be a good friend and ask R U OK?, ALEC, R U OK?’s mascot, shows children how to be a good friend and ask “Are you OK?”
There is also a music video, Together it’s OK!, which aims to encourage children to take the time to comfort their friends when they’re feeling blue.
“While children can’t be expected to fix someone’s problems, they can be encouraged to listen to what their friend is saying, show they care and tell a teacher, school counsellor or trusted adult if they are worried about their friend,” R U OK? explain on their website.
CEWA Psychology Team Leader Laura Allison said mental health was an integral part of overall health for children, just as it is for adults.
“Investing in the wellbeing of children sets them up with a strong foundation to live their best possible life both now and in the future,” she said.
“Our schools have a strong focus on nurturing the wellbeing, strengths and gifts of every child and we aim to create learning environments where students can thrive.
“This includes our schools having mental health practitioners, such as social workers and psychologists, on–site to promote mental health and prevent and provide early intervention for mental illness.”
The CEWA Psychology Team also supports schools by working directly with students, and provides consultation and expertise on a variety of areas including whole-school approaches to student wellbeing.
The Australian Government’s KidsMatter and MindMatters initiatives as well as the Student Wellbeing Hub and organisations such as Youth Focus and Headspace also provide tools and support to our schools.