The national R U OK day was last week, so we wanted to reflect on what that day means and how we could all get better at communicating and listening to our peers about mental health. R U OK is an Australian non for profit charity founded in 2009; the premise was to encourage and normalise conversations surrounding the often avoided topic of mental health and to establish community support to prevent those struggling from becoming socially isolated. They offer a wide range of resources for anyone to tap into as they need, ensuring that having someone to talk to is always an option.
The annual R U OK day is an opportunity to reflect upon our health and teach us how to articulate stress and internal battles that may not have been addressed. The day is a symbolic reminder to speak up and not be afraid to discuss life’s difficulties by giving power to your voice and prompting positive change. It is also a reminder to check in with those around you; it can be easy to forget to be present with your loved ones and go deeper than a surface-level conversation. Providing a safe space for everyone to be honest about how they are getting on can be incredibly powerful, even life-changing.
With the global pandemic and strict lockdown laws, the last two years have certainly been testing for everyone, meaning monitoring your own and the well-being of those around you is more crucial than ever. From the workplace to school, with family, friends or even your next-door neighbour, the most basic of dialogues can make all the difference to a person's state of mind. R U OK Day was put in place to encourage this kind of communication daily, and there are some great ways to navigate normalising these kinds of conversations. Creating an activity where people can bond can ease the tension or sense of pressure to interact; the simple gesture of asking someone for a coffee or a walk can be all it takes for someone to feel comfortable opening up. In the workplace, organising bonding practices, asking people to come up with questions that help spark a conversation, weekly lunches or providing team yoga classes are all effective ways to regulate this type of dialogue. Send a text message to your friends and family, put in place a weekly phone call or touch base when something reminds you of someone. These small actions can prompt meaningful conversation and develop a sense of connection that people will more naturally tap into when they need it, whether right now or in the future. Remember always to be kind and patient; when someone or yourself is feeling low, emotions can be challenging to navigate and dip up and down; taking things bit by bit and committing to checking in is the way to move forward together gradually. We are all in this together!