The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia


In the tumult of a term that is tracing its ineluctable trajectory towards its terminus, today marks the beginning of RUOK? Week in the Senior School. In Middle School, RUOK? Week will be in Week 7.

The Three Pillars of Wellbeing at Scotch are Respect, Resilience and Relationships. The more I read and hear with regard to building, maintaining and enhancing positive mental, physical and spiritual health, the more I believe that these three elements are paramount. They also underpin the whole concept of RUOK? Week. It is only by respecting others that we can come to care about how they are coping; it is only by developing resilience that we can deal with the challenges of life; and it is only through building strong, meaningful relationships that we can feel connected and we can help each other through difficult times.

The central message this year is, "Take More Notice". This applies to taking more notice of the people around us, as well as to taking more notice of what we ourselves are feeling. We need to be reminded to keep looking out for what is going on around us, as well as being vigilant with regard to what is going on inside us. The critical element in this is noticing any changes – in what people say, in how they behave and with regard to what is going on in their lives. When people are struggling, there are usually signs that we can pick up on and which can be a prompt for us to have a conversation with them about how they are travelling. Similarly, we know within ourselves how we start to feel when pressure is building up. It is important for us to find people with whom we can talk, as well as developing our own techniques to ease those feelings.

The main forum for these discussions will be in Chapel, and we will also use Mentor groups in Senior School. In Middle School, the boys will also explore ideas connected to RUOK? Week in Chapel and Assembly, as well as making badges with an RUOK? theme.

In Senior School Chapel, Blake Costello (Year 12, St Andrews) and Benjamin Lilburne (Year 12, Stuart) will be talking about how to have a conversation that revolves around finding out how someone else is going. We will also be getting all Year 12s to join in singing a song. This year, we have adapted the lyrics to "Walk Me Home", by Pink. I am hopeful that we will have a really big number of Year 12s taking part in this. We will post our version online later in the week.

Earlier this year, for the first time, we ran a mini-RUOK? Week, because it is important to regularly remind ourselves that it can be any day when that important question needs to be asked. The signs we put up then have remained up in different parts of the school, although their impact fades as they become part of the everyday scenery. That is why we need to re-commit to looking after ourselves and each other during special weeks such as RUOK? Week. The more often we can find the courage to discuss issues connected with our mental health, the greater the opportunities will be for us to find solutions. And while we still have some way to go, I believe that we are raising awareness and slowly removing the barriers and the stigma. In doing so, we will help to build within our boys the skills which will enable them to make the most of each day; to do what they can, in the time they have, with whatever they have got at their disposal.