DVM students enjoy R U OK? 2018 Day events

Each year, the University of Melbourne hosts a range of wellbeing events across its campuses to mark R U OK? Day.

R U OK? Day is Australia’s national day of action to remind everyone that any day is the day to ask: ‘Are you OK?’ and be mindful of the physical and mental health of others.

In 2018, this awareness-raising day celebrated its milestone tenth anniversary of promoting healthy conversations.

A group of university students smiling and giving thumbs up
Doctor of Veterinary Medicine students at Parkville. Photo: Aaron Hughes.

On Thursday 13 September, the University hosted a festival on the South Lawn, where nearly two thousand students were treated to an array of health foods provided by volunteers in the distinctive yellow R U OK? Day t-shirts.

Contributing groups sharing supportive energy and positive messages included: the Arts and Science Student Society, UMSU Welfare, the Peer Leader Network, the Graduate Student Association, Delta Therapy Dogs , the Fair Food Challenge, and the University of Melbourne ‘Health Ninjas’.

Closer to home, the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences hosted R U OK? Day lunchtime events for its Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) students.

Over two hundred first- and second-year veterinary students were treated to a healthy and delicious sushi lunch in the Parkville student common area in 780 Elizabeth Street.

The event was a collaboration between the Veterinary Students Society of Victoria (VSSV), the Student Welfare Appreciation Group (SWAG) and the Melbourne Veterinary School’s Parkville Student Experience team.

The Student Experience team gave out a range of R U OK? Day merchandise, with the most popular item being bright-yellow silicone wristbands.

The venue was decorated with R U OK? Day bunting and posters, sharing messages and tips with students for the signs that someone they know might be going through a tough time.

This included the four key steps to starting meaningful conversations:

  1. Ask ‘R U OK?’
  2. Listen
  3. Encourage action
  4. Check in.

Parkville Student Experience Director Dr Laura Dooley spent the lunchtime event chatting with students and promoting the R U OK? Day message of healthy conversations.

“We’re keen to encourage our DVM students to feel confident that they can connect with one another if they think they might be struggling, or if they are worried about the welfare of a fellow student,” she said.

Kobe, a canine volunteer for Delta Therapy Dogs, was on-hand at the event, bringing smiles and receiving pats wherever his constantly wagging tail went.

Kobe’s owner Melissa is a second-year DVM student, who also brought her dog along to a DVM Mental Health Day event with other Delta Therapy Dogs in Semester 1.

VSSV students tried something new in the September event, hiring both a popcorn machine and a fairy-floss machine.

A gruop of university students enjoying cotton candy
The Veterinary Students Society of Victoria organised fairy floss and popcorn machines for R U OK? Day. Photo: Aaron Hughes

There was much amusement as students banded together for a crash course in how to successfully make popcorn, as well as a masterclass in the finer intricacies of spinning the perfect stick of fairy floss.

The lines for both machines remained constant during the event, with the delicious aroma of cooking popcorn wafting through the venue indicating the students had mastered the preparation processes.

An ongoing highlight during the event were three massage therapists from Be Well at Work, who were invited by the SWAG Committee.

The hard-working masseurs brought their own massage chairs, providing relaxing five-minute neck and shoulder massages that proved extremely popular with students.

Not to be outdone, students at the Melbourne Veterinary School’s Werribee campus were also treated to an event for R U OK? Day.

Dr Leonie Richards from the Werribee Student Experience team collaborated with the Werribee chapter of the SWAG Committee to ensure an enjoyable lunch for DVM3 and 4 students.

The Kendall Hall student housing building was decked out with posters promoting the R U OK? Day messages of healthy conversations, and a range of popular merchandise items were handed out.

A healthy sushi feast was again provided for students followed by Subway cookies, a student favourite.

A dedicated crew of massage therapists was also a popular feature of this event, in addition to beginners’ yoga classes in the sunshine on the Kendall Hall deck.

The School’s Student Experience teams look forward to providing future opportunities to support and engage our students studying in the DVM programs at the Parkville and Werribee campuses, promoting the R U OK? Day message of encouraging healthy conversations.

Story and photos by Aaron Hughes.