Headmasters Blog

Three Pillars for Life- Respect, resilience and relationships

This week our Senior School celebrated RUOK? Week. Although not officially acknowledged across Australia until next week, staff and students at Scotch took part in a range of activities and workshops aimed at creating a safe space in which to have open, honest conversations with each other.

I am immensely proud that Scotch College has such a strong culture surrounding mental health. Every day, the importance of looking after ourselves and each other is emphasised to the boys in an effort to remove barriers and stigma around vulnerability and opening up.

Equipping young men with the skills to embrace how they are feeling is paramount to their emotional growth and has a huge impact on the rest of their experience at Scotch, in the classroom, serving others and on the sports field. Quite simply, it is part of our charter in preparing them for life beyond the College.

Director of Staff and Student Wellbeing, Mr James Hindle, wrote in this week's Thistle:

"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."

This perfectly encapsulates how we intend to lead the next generation of young men who are strong, but with the ability to be openly vulnerable when necessary.

Why? Because it is absolutely ok to not be ok sometimes.  When needed, make sure you do not hesitate to ask 'RUOK?' to someone who means the most to you.


Dr Alec O'Connell FACE, FAIM, FNAAUC

As Scotch College's 7th Headmaster, I focus on preparing boys for life through focusing on values and cultural alignment.

I am a passionate educator focussed on student and community engagement. My goal as a Headmaster is to graduate future thought leaders who are prepared for life after school.

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