R U OK?
Looking after the wellbeing of our girls is of paramount importance to us at Abbotsleigh. We aim to work together with parents to ensure that we monitor and care for the girls in all aspects of their wellbeing, and if we have any concerns we talk with girls and parents to make sure the girls are supported. We also encourage girls to talk with us and parents to contact us, should they have concerns about their daughters.
At Abbotsleigh we recognise and support R U OK? day – a national day of action to encourage conversations with friends and family who may be struggling. Our girls are very good at looking out for each other and this day helps to remind the girls to check in with their friends; to ask if they are okay, to listen not judge, encourage action if this is needed and then to check in again. A conversation can make such a difference. Visit the R U OK website for more information.
We also urge the girls that if they are worried about the mental health or safety of a friend or their own mental health and safety, to speak to an adult who can assist them and, if necessary, seek further support for them. The girls in the Senior School were all given an R U OK wristband and this handout outlining how to start a conversation around mental health concerns as well as helpful contact details should any girl be struggling. These contacts include talking to an adult at home, at school, in the boarding house, at church, their GP or calling the Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800. There is support at school for all girls when needed – including teachers, tutors, coordinators, counsellors, chaplains and our school nurse.
There is also information on wellbeing and mental health issues available in many places including outside my office and in the Senior School Library. I would encourage all parents to check in with their daughters and, if they are concerned about their wellbeing, to seek support. Sometimes talking can be difficult, so this article on how to have a great conversation may help parents to get started.
Additional resources for parents can be found on the ReachOut website, which is an excellent source of information in regards to parenting teens and mental health.
Should you ever be concerned about the immediate safety and mental health of your daughter, you should call 000 for an ambulance or take your daughter to the nearest hospital to seek mental health support, just as you would with a physical emergency.