R U OK Day encourages real conversations

R U OK? Day in Parramatta, 2015. Picture: Isabella Lettini
R U OK? Day in Parramatta, 2015. Picture: Isabella Lettini

Aussies are being encouraged to start life-changing conversations about mental health today.

R U OK Day, held on the second Thursday each September, serves as an annual reminder to regularly check in with friends, family and colleagues.

The organisation R U OK? was founded by Gavin Larkin in memory of his father, who committed suicide in 1995.

Mr Larkin wanted to honour his father with a simple question that might protect other people from the pain his family endured.

Though he lost his battle with cancer in 2011, his legacy lives on through conversations sparked by the simple question: “Are you okay?”

The foundation encourages people to check up on each other through four simple steps.

1. Ask

Be relaxed and friendly. If you are concerned about someone, mention specific things you have noticed.

2. Listen

Take what they say seriously. Don’t interrupt or rush the conversation. Don’t judge their experiences or reactions, and do encourage them to explain how they are feeling.

3. Encourage action

Ask what they have done in the past to manage a similar situation, and how you can support them. If they have been feeling down for more than two weeks, encourage them to see a health professional.

4. Check in

Put a reminder in your diary to call or meet up with them soon. Stay in touch, let them know you’ve been thinking about them, and ask if they’ve found a way to manage the situation.

For more information, including specific resources for the workplace, school and university, go to ruok.org.au.

  • If you need immediate help, please call Lifeline (131 114) or beyondblue (1300 22 4636) now.
This story R U OK Day encourages real conversations first appeared on Rouse Hill Courier.