This week Australians recognised and placed mental health and awareness on the national agenda as we participated in RUOK Day. It is an important initiative that reminds us all of the need to take care of ourselves and to be aware of those in our community who may need some help.
Mental health issues often go unnoticed until something tragic occurs, a scenario that we are all too familiar with, both in our community and, recently, in the communities of our peers at other schools in this region.
While RUOK day is officially on 13 September each year, we don’t need to wait for a particular day to check in on each other. The RUOK website has some great tips on how to have this important conversation at any time, and what to do if you realise that someone is struggling.
The website promotes a four-step process:
3. Encourage action
4. Check in
If you visit the RUOK website at www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask#preparingtoask you will find some simple and effective guidance regarding each of these steps.
If you notice someone in your community who doesn’t appear to be OK, who is acting a little differently to normal or is simply not themselves, please visit the website and follow the tips for conducting this conversation, beginning with the very simple question, ‘Are you OK?’ There is even a short quiz to ascertain whether you feel ready to have the conversation with someone, or need to get another person involved.
Within our community, mental illness is a common problem. While some people are proactive at finding support and treating their illness, many others try hard to hide their distress and conceal any issues they may be having. Your conversation could be the encouragement they need to seek out help and find a pathway to recovery.
Other great resources are available at the Beyond Blue website or via Lifeline. If you are still unsure or feel uncomfortable asking the question, seek help from one of these organisations, a friend or someone in your community who you can trust to assist.