THE smiling faces of 60 students and staff will send a message of support to their peers for R U OK? day at a Warrnambool school.
Emmanuel College Year 11 student Sophie Woolstencroft rallied classmates and teachers to be photographed in 150 portraits displayed around the school's campuses on Thursday.
"This year I said I wanted to be involved and do something bigger than what's been done in previous years," Sophie said.
She said the amount of pictured students showed that support was widespread in the school.
Sophie said mental illness affected everyone in minor and major ways, and pressure from "heavy expectations" could be particularly burdensome on her teenage peers.
The school's action comes as south-west educators highlighted student and community mental health to be among major challenges at a statewide panel this year.
The school's wellbeing co-ordinator Rachele Sloane said R U OK? not only encouraged peer support, but showed it was OK to be vulnerable.
"We are not immune as a community from the impacts of poor mental health," Ms Sloane said.
She said statistics showed six students out of any one class room could be struggling with their mental health every day, and 25 staff could experience a mental illness every year.
"To present a perfect image, to have a great life, and fantastic purpose for young people whose brains are not fully developed is exceptionally difficult," Ms Sloane said of the pressures on young people.
"We want to say on any given day that we're here to support them."
A group of students will also greet their classmates at the school gates on Thursday morning, but Ms Sloane said she cautioned them to inquire about others' wellbeing at appropriate times.
"Don't ask someone are you OK in a crowded hallway, if you're genuinely asking them," she said.
"That's not necessarily appropriate unless they are given the space to respond."
Crisis support can be found at Lifeline (13 11 14), the Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) and beyondblue (1300 22 4636).
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