R U OK? day is Thursday September 10th 2020. It is intended to galvanise Australians into action as a reminder to ask – every day – our friends, family and colleagues “Are you OK?”
On the R U OK website, they state – The R U OK mission is to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with and support those around them.
And the website state these goals:
Boost confidence to meaningfully connect and ask about life’s ups and downs
Nurture our sense of responsibility to regularly connect and support others
Strengthen our sense of belonging because we know people are there for us
Be relevant, strong and dynamic.
The cause was inspired by Gavin Larkin, whose father committed suicide. In 2009, Gavin wanted to change Australians behaviour; deciding on a nation-wide campaign. From his passion to influence change – R U OK? was developed.
We would all put our hands up and ask for a fast forward to 2021. To say 2020 has been challenging in an understatement, making us even more aware of staying connected and make use of people around us for support and motivation.
There is no expertise required to ask if someone is ok. You can draw on all your empathy and just listen to that person. Chances are you cannot fix their issues, but their first step to working through solutions comes from your concern. It could be worthwhile for you to know how to access appropriate help.
Go to the R U OK? website for all the valuable and respected information. Even a little thing like putting free 24 hour services, such as Lifeline 13 1114 and EAP Helpline 1800 303 909 into your phone, because you never know when you will be able to steer someone to those valuable resources. Simply by instigating a conversation you could change or even save a life. You could be the one to make a positive difference to someone in crisis without evening knowing it.
Do you have a gut feeling that someone you know isn’t behaving as they normally would? Are they out of sorts? Perhaps displaying melancholy or rage that you have never seen before. Are they more agitated or withdrawn? Speaking gibberish? Do you know what is going on in their private life?
You are far better to action that gut feeling, than leaving it to someone else to pick up on. You could be the one the person opens up to. If not, you would know where to steer them towards, with steps to show they have support. Support can come from different quarters, but receiving strategies to better manage the load, will ease their anxieties. If they are ok, that person will know you are someone who cares enough to ask.
Don’t think for one moment that you can’t make a difference for someone struggling. Life chucks curve balls and sets us on roller coaster rides every day. Our circumstances and how we feel change every day. On September 14th 2008, my world was rosy and happy. I was actually living in Dorchester, England for 3 months, going to the Dorset Records Office and transcribing births, deaths and marriages from old 18th century church registers for the Dorset Genealogy Society. Then just like that – on September 15th – Lehman Bros collapsed. All my invested money was lost. I was destitute overnight. So, trust me, despondency can happen to anyone at any time. Just look at the impact of the China Covid19 virus. Millions and millions of people will be left jobless, homeless, hungry and impoverished. Someone you know will be affected.
I manage a mining camp and “R U OK?” is a question we use often on site. Each day we cater for about 200, mostly men, living in the camp. We know everyone on a first name basis. We work, eat and play alongside them all. Just last week our young apprentice chef was acting out in the kitchen, displaying abnormal behaviour. The head chef asked the question – “R U OK?” Of course, it transpired that he was not alright and we were able to get help to site immediately to talk through all his problems. You see, anybody at anytime can come unstuck.
Be alert. Scan situations with your eyes and ears. Someone around you will be struggling. It is a given that the suicide rate will increase. Showing your support and encouraging access to help sooner than later can possibly save that person and the persons in their sphere. Humans have shared experiences and love for thousands of years. By sharing and talking, we can navigate the tough times.
The 4 relevant steps in the R U OK? programme.
3. Encourage action
4. Check in