R U OK Day 2021, why it’s even more important this year

R U OK? is a harm prevention charity that encourages people to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times in their lives. 

With Australia going in and out of lockdown, dealing with all the uncertainty can be very mentally draining for employees. During times of change and disruption, people often forget to take care of their mental health. Most employees may not even realise that their mental health is deteriorating: this can often become harmful if left unaddressed for a long time. 

It’s important to check in with your people around you.

You don’t need to be an expert to reach out – just a good friend and a great listener. 

This year, given the increased need for mental health support, the organisation has urged employers to ask not just “R U OK?” but to dive deeper, and connect further by asking “ Are you really okay?”

Here’s some helpful advice on how and when to start a conversation

It’s not always easy to keep the conversation going when someone says they’re not OK, but it could help make them feel heard and valued.

If you feel like something’s not quite the same with someone you know – there’s something going on in their life or you notice a change in what they’re doing or saying – trust that gut instinct and take the time to ask them “Are you OK?”

By acting as  ‘eyes and ears’ and reaching out to anyone who’s going through a tough time we can show them they’re supported and encourage them to access help sooner. 

  1. Ask “Are you okay? Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach. 
  2. Listen with an open mind. Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation.
  3. Encourage action. Ask them how you can help them, guide them to any support or resources available such booking in an EAP session, accessing counselling and mental health resources 
  4. Check In. Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they’re really struggling, follow up with them sooner.

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