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R U OK? launches a university campaign

Suicide prevention charity R U OK? is launching a campaign for universities with the aim of encouraging students to look out for each other, especially around exam time.

The new R U OK? campaign, ‘Testing Times’ is spearheaded by four universities; Griffith University, University of Canberra, UNSW and Western Sydney University.

The four universities have joined forces with the charity to help their students recognise that supporting someone around exam time is important and need not be difficult or time consuming. Making a call, sharing a meal or lending an ear can make all the difference.

A recent National Youth Week survey conducted by headspace revealed that 70 per cent of students aged between 17 and 25 years rated their mental health as poor or fair in the last 12 months. Some 83 per cent felt stressed, 55 per cent reported trouble sleeping, 79 per cent were feeling anxious, while 35 per cent indicated thoughts of self-harm or suicide.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, young people are also less likely than any other age group to seek help, however a Mission Australia survey found around eight in 10 young men and women would go to friends for help.

R U OK? Campaign Director Katherine Newton said, “University students can have a positive impact on their peers and are often well-positioned to notice a change in someone’s behaviour that might indicate they’re not coping.

“Promoting a culture that encourages students to look out for one another during exams and offer their support can help strengthen connections on campus and encourage early access to appropriate support services” she said.

R U OK? Community ambassador and former student Matt Blundell said, “As a student I was always asking my friends, “Are you OK?” and encouraging them to chat to me or someone else they felt comfortable with about the challenges they faced during their studies.

“Things like trying to keep up with assignments, applying for jobs, the pressures of exams and everything else life throws at us during what can be a really stressful time in your life.”

The ‘Testing Times’ campaign features a series of posters designed around a quiz theme with quirky, relatable messaging to remind students to ask the question of anyone they might be worried about.

The four universities hope to see an increase in students having meaningful conversations during their respective exam weeks with an increase in help-seeking behaviour across campuses. For further information and ideas on coping with exam stress, REACH OUT has compiled a series of articles to help support students who are struggling here.

Source: R U OK?

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