Held annually on the 14th of September, “R U OK Day” is a national contribution to suicide prevention efforts. It’s a day for initiating deep conversations and quick check-ins to connect with people before they are in crisis and to guide them in the right direction. It encourages people to reach out to others and to be a pillar of support for those around them. At the Cyber Safety Project, we are deeply committed to ensuring that young people know what resources are out there if something is going wrong for them, both online and offline. Well-being is one of our central focuses.
Thanks to technology, social media, and instant messaging, checking in with someone has never been easier. We all have numerous online connections. While there might be many we don’t feel close to or comfortable conversing with, for those we can connect with, it’s an opportunity to have a genuine chat about how they’re doing in life. It doesn’t always have to be the question, “Are you OK?”. Here are some alternatives you could use to start a conversation with someone today:
- “Is there anything on your mind?”
- “How have things been for you at home/work/school?”
- “You know I’m always here for a chat, right? How’s everything?”
- “You haven’t seemed yourself lately. What’s going on?”
“R U OK?” is a conversation suitable for any stage of life. It’s also a question to pose to our children. If statistics are anything to go by, there likely is something in their life making them feel unsettled. This could range from bullying, the effects of social media, or challenges with self-esteem. You take a step in the right direction by initiating dialogue and signalling that you are a safe person to talk to.
For educators, the “R U OK?” website offers school resources, including classroom lesson plans, to facilitate meaningful conversations with students. At Cyber Safety Project, our curriculum often highlights the distinction between bystanders and upstanders. This is an excellent opportunity to discuss with young people the importance of being an upstander, reaching out to those who might be struggling, and seeing how you can support them.
By sharing R U OK? Day campaign resources you can make a significant impact. Research indicates that individuals who are aware of the campaign are up to six times more likely to reach out to someone who might be experiencing difficulties than those who aren’t. Spreading awareness works wonders, fostering positive public perceptions and creating genuine, respectful conversations. So, what can you do this “R U OK Day”?
More help-seeking resources:
- Kids Helpline: Kids Helpline | Phone Counselling Service | 1800 55 1800
- eSafety: Online safety | eSafety Commissioner
- Whole Family Workshop
- Whole Family Webinars
- Parent Guide: Empowering Your Teen To Tame Their Screen Time – Cyber Safety Project
- Digital Wellbeing
- Signs your child might be a victim of cyberbullying
- Books to keep your teen safe and well online
Author: Caiti Galwey | Educator, Cyber Safety Project