USC Gympie students Heidi Delisser, Kylie Hoogstraten, Hayley Garner and Cassandra Canty at the 2019 R U OK? Day event.
USC Gympie students Heidi Delisser, Kylie Hoogstraten, Hayley Garner and Cassandra Canty at the 2019 R U OK? Day event. Josh Preston

Gympie pauses to ask important question: R U OK?

GYMPIE took the lead in fighting mental health stigma and emphasising the importance of talking with an R U OK? Day event at its University of the Sunshine Coast campus yesterday.

The two-hour event included morning tea, lawn games, mindfulness, gratitude exercises, mental health training and more for students, staff and visitors.

USC Student Health co-ordinator David Duncan said the event formed an important aspect of the university's ongoing efforts to help students through their mental health journeys.

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"USC has supported R U OK? for many years. We recognise that mental health is an issue in the community and by extension for university students,” Mr Duncan said.

"We take the opportunity to remind people to raise awareness and to ask the question ... be prepared to listen and hear their story, and knowing that you can refer to the university services for extra support.

"We want to try and reduce the stigma around mental health and mental illness, and open up those conversations to try and make it normal to talk about mental health just as we talk about a cough or a cold or if we break our leg.”

Third year nursing student Cassandra Canty said mental health had touched her life through friends she lost to suicide.

"I guess that's been my reasoning that I'm becoming a nurse and I'm having a focus on mental health,” Ms Canty said.

"Talking is kind of taboo. It's only just recently that it's come out that it's ok to ask for help.

"A problem shared is a problem halved, no matter what it is.

"If I had my friend ask me or talk to me, if I knew the problem was there I would've been able to give them support. But I didn't know.”

Psychology student Heidi Delisser shared her own experience.

"Before I started uni I was getting bullied really badly at my job, and that's why I quit and came to uni, and it was really, really tough.

"I feel like if I didn't come to uni I don't know what I would have done.”

Mr Duncan said the differences made in student lives just from talking were easy to see.

"There's been many benefits and you see it every day, certainly hearing stories of students talking to other students, and sometimes that's enough to know they're not alone, or directing them to support and wellbeing services,” he said.

USC continues its R U OK? events today at its Sunshine Coast, Fraser Coast and Caboolture campuses.

If you or anyone you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.

OUR SAY PAGE 8.

Gympie Times


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