Thursday 9 September 2021 marks R U OK? Day, and this year the annual awareness day is more important than ever given the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated measures taken in an attempt to curb the spread of the virus.
As the community continues to face the unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as these challenges can have significant impacts on our mental health, the Morrison Government is encouraging Australians to reach out to the people we care about for an important conversation about mental health.
With research reportedly showing that around 22 per cent of Australians don’t reach out to check on the people around them because there hasn’t been an occasion where they felt someone needed their help, this year’s theme for R U OK? Day is ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’.
It’s said that a regular check in, or just starting the conversation – even when someone is not visibly distressed or in crisis – can make a real difference.
The conversation about mental health need not be difficult, it is as simple as asking is someone is OK, listening to them, encouraging action and checking back in.
As much of the country faces restrictions to lower the risk of Covid-19, there are numerous other issues that are testing our resilience as individuals and collectively, including fears around physical health, uncertainty around business, employment and school, sadness over missed special occasions, and grief over lost loved ones – we’re all carrying a significant emotional load.
This year, we know that an honest to “are you OK” is likely to be “no”, and that is understandable in these circumstances. But it is not something that has to be carried alone.
Help is available.
Anyone experiencing distress can seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14), Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or the Government’s digital mental health gateway, Head to Health (headtohealth.gov.au).
More information and resources to help support the conversation around mental health are available at ruok.org.au