Three simple words to help students - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Three simple words to help students

7 Sep 2016

Being asked “are you okay?” can make a world of difference when you are a long way from home, as students at the multicultural SouthBank campus of the University of the Sunshine will discover tomorrow.

As part of a national suicide prevention awareness day, the University is holding a special R U OK? event tomorrow (Thursday 8 September) at the inner-city campus, where international students make up around 60 percent of enrolments.

Rajpreet Brar, a 28-year-old nurse from Punjab, India, who is a completing a Master of Health Promotion at USC SouthBank, is working with Kaitlin Greenough, Tourism, Leisure and Event Management student to facilitate the special yellow-themed event.

“R U OK? Day is very important as it makes students aware that support is available and that we can all help each other to cope with everyday pressure at university,” Ms Brar said.

“As part of the event, students and staff will sign a promise card to check in with family and friends. People often underestimate the little things which could be really helpful to deal with daily stress, and talking to each other is surely one of them.”

She said making connections with people was particularly important for international students.

“Trying to handle differences in culture, language, living styles, and teaching and study methods all at once is challenging, but having a friend on campus to talk to can really help in terms of guidance and support.

“I felt very lonely during the first few weeks at uni, but when I met some friends and approached the student services at USC it became easier for me to adapt to new things.”

Students and staff at the campus will dress in yellow or orange to raise awareness for R U OK? day and will receive a pack with information on wellness, an R U OK? Day ‘promise card’ and a happy face pin.

Ms Brar will join support staff to hold one-on-one “are you okay?” chats with students, and share information about student counselling and support services.

“I really feel this kind of event can help young people at uni to cope with all the demands they face, and that reminding people to check in with family and friends can save lives.”

Similar R U OK? Day events are being held at other USC campuses at Sippy Downs, Fraser Coast and Gympie.

— Clare McKay

USC SouthBank Student Support Advisor Kim Jennings and Support Officer Naresh Kumar

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