Uni Life

R U OK? Help shed the mental health stigma with Newcastle University Psychology Society

R U OK Day is an important reminder to check-in on those around you, and shed the stigma surrounding mental health. Yak Writer Ben Collison caught up with Kate Miller from the Newcastle University Psychology Society (NUPS) to talk about mental health, and how NUPS are fostering the next generation of mental health professionals.

Acknowledging that you are not okay is a level of vulnerability that many people struggle with. Despite the stigma surrounding mental health being shed away, many Australians are still suffering alone. Having someone reach out and simply ask “R U OK” often is the most meaningful and life-changing conversation with someone.

The Australian Psychological Society wrote in their 2019 White Paper “…mental illness and suicide remain major public issues with almost half of Australians experiencing mental illness in their lifetime.”

The Black Dog Institute state in an article by Dr Peter Baldwin that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), by 2030 mental health will be the largest single healthcare burden globally.

The prevalence can be attributed in part, to the stigma declining. More Australians are reaching out for help with family, friends and employers all playing a proactive role in looking after mental health well-being.

Contributing to this, R U OK Day is making significant progress in improving society’s approach to mental health.

Who is there for us when we put our hand up and ask for help in a professional capacity? Catching up with the Newcastle University Psychology Society (NUPS), I had the chance to chat with the next generation of mental health professionals.

One of the oldest societies at the University, and one of the largest with over 200 within their cohort, NUPS has one of the most active social and professional calendars. Whilst primarily based at the Callaghan campus, NUPS footprint extends also to the Ourimbah Campus.

“R U OK Day has been a fantastic initiative that has made such a positive impact in supporting Australians to speak out ask their friends, colleagues and loved ones if they are okay,” said Kate Miller, Member of NUPS.

With a mixture of social and professional activities throughout the academic year, NUPS cultivates a holistic approach to engaging the psychology community.

Proactive social events “…bring first-year students out of their shell and welcome them to university life,” said Kate. Game and pub nights, as well as social mentoring between undergraduate and postgraduate students form the basis of NUPS’ social agenda.

“This develops into professional development opportunities throughout their second and third years that link students with practices and services across the Hunter and Central Coast regions,” Kate said.

Leading the charge with their series of professional development events is the upcoming Accidental Counsellors course.

“The Accidental Counsellors event equips everyone with the skills and techniques to back up the question ‘R U OK?’. It is designed to give everyone the tools to manage and support someone whether it’s a friend, family member or colleague open up to you in what essentially can be trauma dumping on you. It also gives you the skills to manage the impact this has on our own mental health.” Kate explains.

The Accidental Counsellors course will be run by UON Faculty member, Jason Bridge and is open to all students and staff. Book your spot here.

“We also have our Dress for Success workshop coming up in October. Tailored for all female-identifying and non-binary students; this workshop will give students the skills on how to do your resume, how to dress for job interviews and help yourself to get into the workplace. This is aimed at first-year students and for students when they go to placements.”

NUPS’ major annual event is their ball in November, a collaboration between themselves and the Criminology Society.

“…last year we had over two hundred students attend. Held at the NEX, we are hoping for another fantastic night as we celebrate another academic year coming to an end. Funds raised from the ball will go directly towards the John Hunter Childrens’ Hospital.” Kate said.

You can book your tickets to the ball here.

If either you or someone you know needs to reach out for support, please contact one of the below 24/7 and free services.

Lifeline: 13 11 44

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

Campus Care: (02) 4921 8600

Feature Image by R U OK Day

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