By Ronni Rowland, Writer

“How are you?”
“Um … fine. I’m fine.”

But your friend doesn’t look or sound fine. You’ve noticed signs that your friend is struggling, but you’re not sure what to do. And if you decide to ask your friend more directly for details, you’re not sure what to do or say next.

R U OK? in Shanghai

In fall 2016, Lifeline Shanghai joined with R U OK?, an Australian suicide prevention charity, to launch a community awareness campaign that empowers individuals to support someone who is struggling. “The program focuses on breaking down the stigma of mental health,” shares Coreene Horenko, Lifeline Shanghai’s Outreach Manager. “We are targeting international schools and providing students, families, educators, and communities with practical tools for prevention.”

Participants in the program learn how and when to ask, “Are you okay?” and develop confidence in what to say and do next. R U OK? is very flexible and varies in how it is implemented.


School-based workshops. 

Lifeline Shanghai can provide a variety of school-based options related to the R U OK? campaign:

  • In-service support for developing an R U OK? program
  • In-service workshops for school administrators, teachers, counselors and support staff
  • Information sessions during school orientations for new families
  • Information sessions during parent association meetings
  • In-school workshops for students


Student-led programs.

One of the most effective ways to improve student well-being is empowering them directly with prevention tools and strategies. “After moving to Shanghai, students may be struggling with a variety of pressures – ranging from academic to emotional to social – and having a peer to talk to can make all the difference,” explains Horenko.

Students can take a leadership role in mental health awareness and suicide prevention in a variety of ways:

  • Create posters and videos for an “R U OK? Awareness Day”
  • Establish a “Conversation Corner” where students can speak openly about mental health
  • Create a student-led, teacher-supported club where student leaders listen to and mentor peers about mental health issues


Community-based workshop for teachers.

Teachers can join ELG on Saturday, March 10, 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, for our free professional development day, Teen Mental Health.

Lifeline Shanghai will be presenting a talk on their curriculum. Find out more about this valuable program first-hand, ask questions, and see how students can play a vital role in promoting well-being in schools and supporting peers who may be struggling.

It’s OK to say you’re not OK:

Meaningful conversations play a vital role in mental health. It can begin with a simple question, “Are you okay?” When we make it a priority to talk about mental health on a regular basis, individuals will feel safer to say, “I’m not okay.” That’s an important first step in finding helpful strategies to improve our overall well-being.

For more information about Lifeline Shanghai and the R U OK? campaign, email ​[email protected]​. More information is also available at