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USQ community connects at R U OK? Day activities

USQ Student Services psychologist Ann-Marie O'Keefe, USQ HR Senior Health and Wellbeing Advisor Shenaed Bliss and Corporate Support Officer Emily Marsh
Ask ‘R U OK?’, then listen without judgement, encourage action, and check in.

These are the simple steps that could save a life.

University of Southern Queensland (USQ) hosted events at each of its campuses today (September 13) in support of national suicide prevention charity R U OK?.

Dedicated staff were available to share tips on how to have meaningful conversations with others, providing leaflets on areas important to mental health including how to get better sleep, how to calm down quickly, coping strategies, and the difference between good and bad stress.

USQ Health Promotion Officer Katie Levitt said it was all about bringing people together in a relaxed environment to learn and talk to each other.

“R U OK? Day’s message is so important, especially since suicide is a leading cause of death in young people,” Miss Levitt said.

“The purpose of our activities today was to empower students and staff to simply ask ‘are you ok’. It can make all the difference.”

The USQ Toowoomba event featured stalls from local health organisations, an inflatable obstacle course, live music, healthy free food and snacks.

Miss Levitt said the event was also an opportunity to ensure students were aware of the ongoing resources available to them, including free health checks for the USQ community as part of the University’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2016 – 2020.

“We want to ensure our student and staff are well equipped with the resources and support they need to be well throughout their studies and work,” she said.

This conversation opportunity was followed by a panel discussion and webinar with guest speakers, including Professor Ken Udas (Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Academic Services and the Chief Information Officer, and ALLY Network Champion); USQ Lecturer (Counselling) James Brown; USQ Employee Assistance Program (EAP) representative Karen Matthews; and R U OK Day Ambassador Steve Hatherell.

Topics covered included ‘Suicide within LGBTIQ community’, ‘Prevalence of suicide amongst males’, ‘EAP information and Change Management’ and ‘Lived Experience’.

R U OK? Day is held each year in September to encourage people to meaningfully connect with others around them and support anyone struggling with life issues.

The USQ Toowoomba event was hosted by USQ Student Services, HR and Phoenix Central. For more information on USQ support services, visit www.usq.edu.au/studentservices. Learn more about R U OK? at www.ruok.org.au.