Today we are asking “R U OK?” as part of the national initiative to encourage people to reach out and check in on the mental health of their family, friends, co-workers, and peers.
R U OK? Day this year focuses on the importance of inspiring regular and meaningful conversations with others as a way of helping to encourage and offer support to those who may be suffering from mental health issues.
Each year, Australia sees 2,400 deaths due to suicide. Australian Health Minister Peter Dutton hopes to reduce this statistic through simply taking out the time to ask how someone is doing.
“We all need to find the time and the courage to support those who need us most,” he said.
“Regular and meaningful conversations are good for us all. Research tell us that strong relationships and a sense of belonging can help protect people from suicide.”
This year, R U OK? Day Ambassadors have developed a clever way to help people ask that simple question, and to inspire Australians to become a “Conversation Mate”.
You can sign up to be a Conversation Mate by providing your name and contact details on the R U OK? Day website, and in turn you will receive regular emails which will provide helpful tips on how to start a meaningful conversation.
It is important to become aware of the severity of the effects of mental health issues and to realize that by being open to discussion about other people’s health, you may be able to help save a life.
It is our responsibility to open up and to be there for those who are suffering; whether it is by asking them if they are ok, offering help and guidance, or by simply giving them a smile and words of encouragement.
A lot of these people feel they are alone in their struggle, but by showing genuine concern and by simply being there for the sufferer, you can make a huge difference in their life and may even encourage that person to seek help.
“By saying, “If you want to talk, I’m here”, you’re leaving that door open to talk”, says founder of Silent Ripples, Trevor Smith.
“You can start a conversation and save a life … who knows how many lives the movement has saved.”
Today’s action for the YCW is to ask the simple question, “Are you okay?” and to open up to starting a conversation with those around us, to lend an ear, and to give those we know or don’t know, a warm and genuine smile and the silent affirmation that there is always help for those who need it.
Through little acts of kindness and by being educated on the issue of depression, we are helping to improve the state of our nation’s mental health and are also giving those who feel they have nowhere to go, a positive way out.
If you are experiencing thoughts of depression or suicide, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit the BeyondBlue website for more information and support.
To find out more about R U OK? Day or to join one of the R U OK? Bus tours or events, visit www.ruok.org.au