Nambucca High kids ask the big questions on RUOK day

Suicide and deteriorating mental health is a growing issue in our youth demographic.

And as Uniting's Children, Youth and Families Community Impact Strategy Coordinator Cass Wilson points out, it's also a very complex one.

She realised that collaboration would be a better approach when it came to tackling the problem head-on, rather than one agency going it alone.

So today, on national RUOK? day, she and workers from Headspace, The Buttery, Mission Australia's 360 Outreach Program, NSW Police and the Lions Club Nambucca Heads have joined forces at Nambucca Heads High.

"We want to show these young people that we are willing to work as a team to support them to make positive steps for their own mental health, and to in turn support others around them," she said.

Students were also involved in the planning and running of the day.

She said that in a recent pizza night she held in Nambucca, over 30 kids rocked up and 'spilled the tea'.

The big thing we got out of that was that they wanted more help identifying if friends are not ok and to know what to say.

So today each student received a pocket-sized card with simple instructions about how to start the conversation.

"The take-home message is you don't have to be an expert, you just have to be a friend by asking, listening and supporting," she said.

Cass said the team wanted fun to be a driving factor behind the day to build positive associations around checking in on your mates' mental state.

On top of taking home an important lesson, they were able to take home a fun memory too.

On top of taking home an important lesson, they were able to take home a fun memory too.

"Nambucca Heads High School has really embraced this opportunity. Rather than just handing out pamphlets, we all agreed we wanted to actually engage the students and start an important conversation," she said.

At lunchtime, over 400 students joined in the fun which included a photo booth, handball competition, 'drunk-goggle' beanbag throwing activity, a chill-out lounge, RUOK? freebies, and a sausage sizzle and cut fruit feast.

The Nambucca Heads Lions were cooking up a storm to feed over 400 kids.

The Nambucca Heads Lions were cooking up a storm to feed over 400 kids.

By the end of the hour nearly every kid on the quad was sporting a yellow RUOK? band on their wrist - a clear sign that the stigma associated with talking about your feelings is gradually being worn down.

Cass said the feedback she was receiving was that the kids were grateful their concerns were being listened to.

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