A photo by Austin Neill. unsplash.com/photos/ZahNAl_Ic3o

Interview with Pip Ryan Part 2: Work-life balance

Our UTS LSS Student Wellbeing Advisory Group Member and UTS LSS Wellbeing Blog ongoing contributor, Karla Hart  writes…

Is work-life balance something we should aspire for or an unrealistic ideal which constantly makes us feel like our lives are incomplete? Dr Pip Ryan, barrister and UTS law academic, shares her views on work-life balance.

“Sometimes I get a little bit nervous about this work-life balance thing. Sometimes I think the desire for it works against you. How you approach balance in life really depends on what you want and your expectations. Work does not have to dominate, but getting started, meeting deadlines, meeting your budget and getting promotions will require that sometimes you put work first. It can be counterproductive and very stressful to fight these pressures. Indeed, it can be very rewarding and enjoyable to throw yourself into your work.

If you want to take it easy or leave things to the last minute and you are happy with just getting passes, go for it. But don’t complain if you don’t apply yourself and then are unhappy with your marks. If you want to achieve your goals, you have to ask yourself what that takes. If you’re naturally brilliant and you can achieve without doing much work, bravo! I can’t. I’ve never been able to do that. For me, it’s always been about hard work, focus and meeting deadlines. In my 20s, I worked for a judge full-time while studying law. In those years, not once did I feel anything but unbelievably privileged, grateful and happy. I would sometimes burst into tears from sheer exhaustion, but I was also completely content.

I am a big believer in action before motivation. Keep a “must do” list so that you do not turn things over in your mind all the time. If you’re lying in bed worrying about something that needs to be done, get up and do it.

Keep a “must do” list so that you do not turn things over in your mind all the time

For example, I took an article with me to finish when I went camping with my little grand-daughters last year. My husband and I had an amazingly perfect day with these gorgeous little girls. Once the girls went off to sleep, I sat by a lake with a laptop, tea, chocolate, head phones, a little camping lamp, and I finished an article, thinking “I am the luckiest person in the whole world!” Had I been one of those people who won’t work on the weekend, we wouldn’t have gone camping. Had I gone away that weekend with the article unfinished, I would not have enjoyed myself at all. That is how I manage my work-life balance.

Enjoyed reading Karla’s interview with Dr Pip Ryan about work-life balance? Have a read of what Dr Ryan has to say about failure here

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Protein Packed Dip

Our Careers (Publications) Director and UTS LSS Wellbeing Blog contributor, Breanna Nobbs provides a simple and nutritious Yogurt Protein Dip recipe

This dip is an excellent way to get more protein in your diet, and makes for something a little different next time you bite into your apple!

(Gluten free, egg free)

Serves: 4


300g greek or natural yoghurt (can be low fat)

6 tablespoons almond butter (almond and cocoa butter is also good!)

2 tsp of cinnamon or nutmeg

2 tbls of rice malt or coconut (honey also works well)

3 tbls Protein powder

Apple, banana, or other fruit of choice


  1. Add yoghurt, cinnamon, almond butter, and syrup to a bowl and combine well
  2. Add protein powder, stir well with form to remove any lumps
  3. Extra cinnamon and syrup can be added to achieve desired taste
  4. Cut chosen fruits, and serve

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A photo by Lacie Slezak. unsplash.com/photos/yHG6llFLjS0

Interview with Pip Ryan Part 1: How to deal with failure

Our UTS LSS Student Wellbeing Advisory Group Member and UTS LSS Wellbeing Blog ongoing contributor, Karla Hart  writes…

Failure can be such a negative word in our society. But does it really deserve all the negativity associated with its meaning? Dr Pip Ryan, barrister and UTS academic, sheds some light on her views of failure.

Failure is inevitable

I have had way more failures than successes in my life. Most of the things that I would regard as my greatest successes started as failures. I just didn’t let the failures stop me. Just look at what barristers – at the bar, every person who runs a matter through to finality will win or lose. That means half the Bar lose in court every single day. Failure is unavoidable.

Most of the things that I would regard as my greatest successes started as failures

Learn from your failures

By the time I got to uni, I was pretty sure that if things didn’t go well, it was pretty much my fault. Otherwise, if an unfairness was leading to things not going well, I generally let it slide. Minor injustice is part of life. A failure should not be a finite, complete action, but something which prompts you to learn. If the failure is a result of your own mismanagement of time, lack of preparation, failure to follow instructions, to appreciate the task at hand or to seek assistance when you should have, you can learn from this.

On my first day at the Bar, I started a document called “What I did wrong today”. The good thing about keeping this document was that every time I went to court, I wasn’t expecting a counsel of perfection, but one riddled with failure and frustration. But I made sure I learned from those experiences.

How to deal with failure

That being said, always have to many eggs in your basket. If you’re pinning everything on one endeavour, such as clerkships, and you don’t achieve that singular goal, you’re going to feel absolutely terrible. But if you’ve got other options lined up and other things that really matter to you, you’ll be much better off.

The Vegemite story – where failures become folk-law

vegemiteWhen I was 16, I competed in the final round of a national public speaking competition. I’ve always done very well in public speaking competitions. I kept winning earlier rounds and thought I was a genius. To be honest, I was getting a little arrogant. Seated in the audience with my parents on the day, I listened to the girl who got up before me deliver my speech. Of the four topics we could choose from, she chose the same one as me: “A memorable Australian”. And like me, she came up with exactly the same twist – to talk about vegemite! This was before the internet and the only way to research vegemite was to contact the J Walter Thompson advertising company, which had the vegemite account since the 1930s. She’d done the same thing and got exactly the same information. She was on stage, delivering my speech! And she was brilliant. Now, the mistake I made was that I didn’t have the written speech in my hand. Feeling rattled, the whole speech disappeared from my head. When I got up on stage, I burst into tears in front of everyone. My mother came up, grabbed me by the hands and told the audience, “I’m really sorry. We’ve got to go”. I cried all the way home.

Importantly, I did not give up on public speaking and I always have written speech with me. And of course, the next day, when I told everyone at school what happened – my friends all thought it was hysterical. Let’s face it, success stories are never as interesting or as much fun to re-tell as an outstanding disaster.

Liked reading Karla’s interview with Dr Pip Ryan? Part two about work-life balance is coming soon… Get excited!

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Funky Study Spots Around Campus

Varying your study spots can make studying just that tiny bit more pleasant. You might find certain places are stimulating and even motivating. I find that when I work on something that requires creative thinking such as brainstorming or researching for an essay, being in a busy place helps me get inspired. However, when I need to tackle a difficult problem question, my go-to is a quiet area where I can put my head down.

So, I’ve sussed out a few different funky study spots around campus to make exam revision a bit more exciting and, hopefully, less stressful. I hope this list comes in handy in the next few weeks!

When you want to be nice and cosy…

Building 8 (Dr Chau Chak Wing Building ‘Paper Bag Building’), Level 4

If you haven’t sussed out the new Business School building yet you are missing out! Level 4 has a particularly great study area with numerous desks, couches, computers, white boards, and even a kitchen space. Gotta love the modern design of the Paper Bag Building.

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Building 5B (Law Building), Levels 4 & 5 

You may not have realised that Building 5B has a range of renovated student lounges on its upper levels. The area literally has everything! Comfy lounges, large group tables, private and secluded individual desks, kitchen and a balcony.

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Quirky places for group study sessions…

Penny Lane Bar & Cafe, Building 11

The narrow lane joining buildings 10 and 11 together has a perfect spot if you’re on the hunt for a laid back atmosphere: Penny Lane Bar & Cafe. The cafe has tones of tables both inside and in the undercover lane which has brilliant natural light. There’s even a private closed off area with a large table ideal for group study sessions.

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Spacious with all necessary amenities…

Building 11, Level 1

Building 11 has tones of hidden study areas. Level 1 is particularly awesome because it’s nice and spacious, and has numerous computers and even printing facilities. It’s also right next to Penny Lane Cafe if you’re feeling peckish or need a boost of caffeine!

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Cafe vibes…

The background noise, smell and buzzing atmosphere of cafes can make a very pleasant study office. You might surprise yourself by how much focus and inspiration you can gain from simply spending a couple of hours wiyour laptop in a cafe around uni.

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Universal Cafeteria, Building 6

Get amongst the art students in Building 6 at the Universal Cafeteria. This is a perfect spot for group works especially.

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When you feel like a breath of fresh air…

There are tones of different hidden spots to set yourself up outside. Our favourite ones are the green quadrant behind Building 2, the good old law courtyard in Building 5B and the different cafes’ outside areas.

Cafe 80

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When dead quiet is a necessity…

UTS Library, Level 5

The top level of the library  is a silent area which has lovely natural light and private desks. Remember that between Tuesday 4th of October to Friday 11th November 2016, the UTS Library is open for 24 hours for 5 days a week (Sunday to Thursday every week)! For further information, head to the UTS Library website.

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Sugar: the Truth

Our UTS LSS Student Wellbeing Advisory Group Member and UTS LSS Wellbeing Blog ongoing contributor, Vanessa Cavallaro writes…

More and more research has emerged revealing sugar is ‘bad for your health.’ Then these are counteracted by studies that prove no links between the white stuff and diseases can be found. Then studies that counteract those studies reveal that in the long term, sugar is indeed responsible for the majority of modern-day illnesses. So what’s the truth? What does sugar really do in the body? And what can arise from eating too much of it?

Check out this post that found sugar-free meal and snack options around campus, to help start you off on the right track to reducing sugar in the diet!

Sugar is made up of 2 halves, glucose and fructose. Glucose, found in all carbohydrate sources, is the body’s ‘fuel supply’, providing much needed energy to every single cell in our body. Fructose however, cannot be used by our body for energy, and instead gets sent to the liver, which very efficiently converts it into stored energy (which is largely fat!)

So what are the problems with consuming too much sugar in our diet?

Lets break it down into 3 key issues:

  1. Our body won’t tell us when it’s full

When we consume most foods, our appetite control system efficiently notifies the brain that we have had enough to eat. Every food molecule has a corresponding hormone that tells our body this. Every food molecule that is, except fructose! Biologically, we are programmed to binge on sugar, dating back to tens of thousands of years ago.

If you’re interested in learning more about fructose’s effect on our appetite regulation, check out this link https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130101182010.htm

  1. Sugar converts directly into fat

Every bit of food we eat is metabolised by our cells and used as energy, except fructose! For digesting this guy, the liver has most of the work, which directly converts it into fat. When we drink sugary drinks (like Coke, or juice), this process happens even faster, as there is no fibre to slow it down! Of course these excess energy stores are used up if we’re moving a lot, or eat sweets in moderation, but more often than not, we are not moving nearly as much as we need to counteract the strain sugar puts on our liver.

  1. Too much sugar makes us sick!

More and more research has emerged in recent years blaming sugar as the cause for diseases from hypertension, obesity, diabetes and research has even gone as far to suggest that fertility in both men and women could be at risk with excess sugar consumption.

I Quit Sugar’s founder Sarah Wilson best illustrates these potential consequences in the below diagram:


It is important to note that results are sometimes inconclusive and often at preliminary stages of research, but it is handy to keep in mind the potential effects excess sugar could have on your body in both the short and long term!



Share the love, give blood

Our Student Wellbeing Advisory Group (SWAG) member and ongoing Wellbeing Blog contributor, Diana Semaan writes…

Following Smile Week, we want to continue spreading the message to share the love. We’re taking this quite literally, as we bring to your attention the caring act of giving blood.

Of all the ways we can contribute to saving the lives of others, blood and marrow donations are one of the most personal and admirable commitments we can make. Although initiatives like the Red Cross are a household name, we may not always fully grasp the process involved. So we’ve unpacked it all for you, and gathered the key things you need to know about.

How to donate and why?
In understanding the necessity for donations, the statistics speak for themselves.


The potential of donations in Australia are more versatile than you may think. Over a third of blood donations help treat people with cancer, but this is only one of 22 different medical treatments to which blood donations help save lives; others include blood diseases, haemophilia, anaemia, heart and stomach disease, childbirth and operations, trauma and blood loss (including burns).


How to donate

Although seemingly simple, blood and marrow donations involve a thorough screening process. The main criteria for donors are age and weight restrictions.

There are also lesser-known health or lifestyle matters, which may render you temporarily or permanently unable to donate:

  • Tattoos Any tattoos obtained in the past 4 months (inclusive of cosmetic tattoos)
  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding this is for the purpose of avoiding physical stress and iron deficiency during childbirth
  • Untreated low Blood iron although this may be treated easily through iron replacement therapy and dietary changes
  • Having lived in the UK for 6 months between 1980 and 1996 due to the risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (VCJD) otherwise known as the human ‘mad-cow disease’
  • “High Risk” sexual activity in the past 12 months This is not to pass judgment and exists for all gender and sexual preferences. Although tests are taken to detect most infections, test results are not always perfect.
  • Recreational drug use for drugs not prescribed and administered by a practitioner
  • Travelling overseas 4 months prior to donation increases risks of certain infections obtainable through insects, animals, water, and other people

Donating at Uni – The UTS Red Cross Society

Did you know there are ongoing opportunities for students who wish to donate here at UTS, available through our own Red Cross Society? Donations are handled on an appointment basis to avoid delays for volunteers.

Donation opportunities for October are as follows:

  • Monday 17th October: Elizabeth Street, Sydney from 2:15pm
  • Tuesday 18th October: Town Hall, Sydney from 2:30pm
  • Wednesday 19th October: Town Hall, Sydney from 2:30pm

Although there is no substitute for blood, contributions may also be made through volunteering your time or contributing to local and national fundraising efforts. Visit www.redcross.org.au to find out how you can help save a life today!


Resilience in Law

Failure. A seven letter word which holds the power to overshadow our achievements and nullify any progress. A word so significant that it may leave a lingering, overwhelming, anxious feeling which can lead to self-doubt and deter one from achieving their ambitions. From this outlook, failure has the potential to alter and reverse every positive effort into a negative outcome.

However, the consequences of failure can change by simply shifting our perspective.

Let me elaborate…

Law school can seem like a daunting place amidst the numerous assignments, coffee runs, countless readings, law competitions and work. You may be constantly surrounded by peers who are juggling numerous extra-curricular commitments with work, or who are seemingly excelling in both their personal and professional lives. Consequently, we may fall victim to comparison and measure our success by other people’s achievements, because we expect to have the same experiences and accomplishments. Shakespeare wisely noted that “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”

In the moment you feel defeated by a job rejection, disappointed by a mark, betrayed by a friend or disillusioned with any other aspect of life, it may be difficult to see a path forward. Sometimes we may also lose sight of the fact that everyone fights a hard battle, and may struggle in some way. Some directly express how they feel, whilst others will mask their concerns.

But, how can we be resilient?

Daily reminder: never doubt yourself or your potential. You are unique and amazing, no one else could be you.

Rather than focusing on other people’s lives and accomplishments, utilise that time by focusing on your life, work towards realising your full capability and engaging in experiences which will enhance your personal growth. Positive thinking and actions can have a transformative effect. Some helpful strategies I’d recommend are:

  1. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support, whether that may be a friend, family member or counsellor – there are many people who are here for you and happy to help.
  2. Surround yourself with people who are encouraging and supportive of your goals and ambitions.
  3. Write out a plan of attack which may detail what actions or experiences you seek to achieve
  4. If you have a big goal, work towards achieving it through breaking it down into smaller more manageable tasks.
  5. Reward yourself along the way – this could be a sweet treat or night out with friends, you always deserve a break and taking time for yourself.

There is no right solution but rather shifting your perspective to realise your potential is the best way to move forward. For further information on maintaining resilience in law, the UTS Law Faculty has provided additional information. Check out Mental Health Australia for awesome events occurring state-wide which are designed to address your wellbeing and boost your happiness. Also, the UTS Library will be holding an informative and engaging seminar on Mental Health and the Law from 12pm to 1pm today, the details are available here.

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Emotional Intelligence: is it more important than IQ?

Our Student Wellbeing Advisory Group (SWAG) member and ongoing Wellbeing Blog contributor, Chanelle Nader writes…

The Two Aspects

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) embraces two fundamental aspects:

  • The ability to understand and be aware of your own emotions, goals, intentions and behaviour
  • The ability to understand people, their underlying motivations and how to work cooperatively with them.

The Five Key Areas

EQ was coined by Daniel Goleman in 1995 based on previous works developed in the late 1970’s and 1980’s by psychologists Howard Gardner, Peter Salovey and John Mayer. Daniel Goleman identified five important categories that encompass both personal and social competencies of EQ. These are:

  1. Knowing your emotions.
  2. Managing your own emotions.
  3. Motivating yourself.
  4. Recognising and understanding other people’s emotions.
  5. Managing relationships.

Why Does it Matter?

Developing the skills attached to EQ such as empathy, active listening, effective communication and resilience are fundamental in forming connections with others and how we connect with ourselves. Our EQ is influenced through our early childhood experiences and genetics however it is a life skill that we are able to continuously learn and improve.

Your Intelligence Quotient (IQ) determines the cognitive abilities of a person to learn, form concepts, understand and reason. Throughout uni we are repeatedly being tested on this in the form of assignments or exams. So where does EQ fit in? It enables us to effectively manage the stress and emotions we feel during exam week, work collaboratively within a team for a project or sport or listening to the concerns of a friend during a difficult time.

When it comes to happiness and success in our relationships, goals and careers, EQ is a skill that is worthwhile investing time and patience into building.

TED Talks on EQ

For further information on understanding what EQ is all about, check out these brilliant TED Talks!

  1. On Vulnerability
  2. On Compassion
  3. On Disagreement
  4. On Listening

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https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/communication-success/201410/how- increase-your-emotional-intelligence-6-essentials







Stuvac Getaways

Our UTS LSS Student Wellbeing Advisory Group member and ongoing contributor for the UTS LSS Wellbeing blog, Karla Hart writes…

Half way through semester and with exams on the horizon, it’s important to take a break from the books to rest and recollect. While many of us find it hard to fit breaks into our busy lives, a quick getaway can provide the perfect escape to reenergise ourselves for the weeks ahead.

Some students may have a fabulous holiday already booked, but for those who can only spare one or two days off, the following Sydney getaways are sure to inspire and delight.

Day trips:

The Bondi to Coogee walk

For a few hours of spectacular views, head over to Bondi for the Bondi to Coogee walk. Alone or with a friend, enjoy some fresh air and exercise, reminding yourself of all the time you’ll have to spend at the beach in November!  The walk is 6km one way, with plenty of delicious cafes and a beautiful beach to relax on at the end.

The Royal National Park

45 minutes south of Sydney, the Royal National Park is a serene natural paradise. With stunning natural beaches and many beautiful bush walks, it is the ultimate urban escape. If you’re not up for a walk, take your fishing rod or book for the day. If you keep an eye on the sea you may even spot a whale! Try to plan ahead and take some barbeque supplies because there are many great barbeque facilities in spectacular locations.

Wendy Whiteley’s Secret Garden

This beautiful garden is the perfect place to take a picnic and book to relax. Only a 5 minute walk from Milson’s Point train station, the gardens have a range of sitting areas where you can relax after wandering the beautiful garden path. There are some lovely secluded and private sitting areas if you really want to escape from the world. With some of the greatest harbour and city views, you won’t believe how peaceful and detached the gardens feel from the rush of daily life.

One or two night trips:
Leura and Katoomba

Leura and Katoomba are beautiful Blue Mountains destinations to visit for a few days. Get your blood flowing on one of the many Blue Mountains bush walks, many of which can be accessed from Leura and Katoomba. If you’re not up for walking but love to be immersed in nature, enjoy the stunning views available in many locations or visit Scenic World where you can ride the railway or cableway down into one of the valleys. Stroll Leura Mall’s boutique shops for unique finds and have fun discovering food that gives Sydney a run for its money.

The Central Coast

For a sea change beyond your local beaches, head up to the Central Coast to relish some sunny days of relaxation. Terrigal and Avoca are popular destinations frequented by friendly locals. There are plenty of restaurants which cater to student budgets. The popular Terrigal Beer Garden has a great atmosphere on weekend nights.

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Our UTS LSS Student Wellbeing Advisory Group member and ongoing Wellbeing blog contributor, Diana Semaan writes…

‘Staying connected and having meaningful conversations is something we can all do. You don’t need to be an expert – just a good mate and a great listener. So if you know someone who might be struggling – start a conversation’ – Gavin Larkin

In the summer of 1995, the Larkin family were devastated by the loss of their father Barry. As with all suicides, Barry’s loss created a whirlwind of grief for friends and family and countless questions that could never be answered.

In 2009, his son Gavin Larkin chose to honour his fathers’ memory by promoting the one question we can always ask. ‘Are you OK?’

Joining forces with Janina Nearn to create a documentary, Gavin endeavoured to change the way Australians ask this question. True to form, a documentary wasn’t enough! Gavin endeavoured to generate the national campaign we celebrate today to acknowledge the power that simple conversation can have in saving lives. Gavin continued work on his legacy until his own unfortunate passing from cancer in 2011.

Why does the question matter?

We see the discussion of mental health and illness around us everywhere. Often it is in the form of discussions around budgets and resource shortages. But of all the ways in which we can attempt to achieve support in the world around us, taking the time to start a conversation is always the primary step. It can be done by anyone and it costs nothing more than a moments thought for the people we care about.

How can we ask the question?

We all know that one person who pats you on the back from afar with a broom handle when life gets you down. Everybody handles their personal struggles differently; likewise, everyone offers their help in their own way. RuOK offers a few helpful tips on taking a few simple steps in the right direction.

  1. Trust your gut instinct

Maybe something about the way your friend has been acting is not usual for them. Perhaps they seem out of sorts to you? You’re a friend; by starting a conversation about the changes you have noticed you may encourage them to open up. Even if you don’t think you’re seeing results, you help them feel like someone cares enough to ask.

  1. Getting ready to ask

Although seemingly trivial, the method of delivery in asking someone if they are okay may determine what happens next. Everyone who wants to have this discussion needs to stop and ask themselves a few things. Am I in a good headspace? Am I actually willing to listen to what might be said? Can I make time for a proper long discussion if necessary?

Further more, you may need to prepare yourself for the outcome. The person on the receiving end may deny any observations made, may refuse to address the matter, or may not want to talk to you about it. Don’t take this personally, if you’re a friend or family member you will most likely have the intuition that goes with preparation. Maybe they may also need to speak to someone else, maybe they just need a moment to take it all in!

Lastly, whilst it seems like every social event a student could have provides you the Dutch courage you need to spill your guts, there is a time and place for the serious conversations. There is a lot you can do to make a loved one comfortable and help them feel supported. Have you checked whether or not it is a good time to chat? Have you chosen a time when you are alone and they are not occupied? Have you chosen a quiet place?

  1. Having the conversation

Whilst it may be a mere assumption that you get along with this person most days, approach the subject the way you would on your best day. Ask them how things are going, what they have been up to. In appropriate opportunities, bring up what is concerning you about them lately …

‘You seem less chatty than usual … how are things going?’

More often than is expected, a person may shut down, pull back or become defensive. They may not want to talk about it. Again don’t take this personally; avoid confrontation and ask if there is anyone else they would prefer to talk to. Maybe ask if they are free to talk later?

If they are willing to talk, allow them to control the conversation, ask them to explain things if they provide vague answers about how they may be feeling. Respond often to acknowledge that you’re listening, and try your best not to interrupt or rush things.

I have asked RUoK. What else can I do to help?

Ask more questions RuOK is the first question amongst many. Try asking your loved one what they have done in the past to handle challenging moments. Allow them to lead the discussion in taking action. Try and bring up what they do to relax, what you do, what works and what doesn’t.

Professional and Community services Encouraging a loved one to seek professional help is always useful, you cannot expect to understand and grasp everything that can be happening in a single conversation. Seeking one of many available professionals, outreach programs and initiatives may just be what they need. Remember you’re where the help starts, not where it ends!

Check in regularly Checking in on your loved one regularly and in a positive manner always helps them feel less isolated. Even a quick catch up over the phone or coffee once a week could make all the difference in the world!

RuOK? and batyr

Amongst many initiatives available to students in particular is the unique initiative of the batyr Association. Founded by Sebastian Robertson in 2011, batyr has become a national initiative focusing on preventative education in the area of youth mental health. Not only does this provide opportunities for young people to receive training in sharing their experience in their community, it provides the actual opportunity for such stories to be heard. Conducting programs to educate, empower and engage students from the experience of others, batyr endeavours to make discussion of mental health our norm.

The unfortunate reality in Australia is that students experience high rates of mental ill health. While we may live in a less than perfect system to accommodate the needs for mental wellness, we possess the capacity to take the first step for ourselves and for others. The stories of RuOK, Batyr and other initiatives have their own origin stories, but all share the same message.

It starts with a conversation!