Are you okay? It’s a simple question, with an often difficult answer.
This Thursday, people around the country will reach out to a mate or family member as part of national R U OK?Day, an initiative aimed at reducing Australia’s high rates of suicide.
The annual day of action aims to break the ice and get people talking openly about their mental health – a confronting issue, oft left unspoken.
CEO and Co-founder of the campaign, Janina Nearn said as little as a conversation can change a life.
“It can be very tricky, but it’s really important to take the time out, to sit down with them, and just listen.”
“It might take more than one conversation for someone to open up, so that’s what we’re trying to facilitate.”
“It’s about breaking down the barriers, getting rid of the stigma, and checking in with people who are having a hard time.”
It’s a subject NRL legend and Gold Coast-based R U OK?Day Ambassador Tommy Raudonikis knows all too well.
After losing his grandson to a tragic Rugby League accident at 15 years of age, Tommy said the support of his friends helped him through a dark time.
“Suddenly I started hearing from friends I hadn’t talked to for years and years – I got phone calls wishing me well, wishing the family well, and it just made things a lot easier for us.”
“If you’re talking to your mate and you know he’s got a few worries, just say ‘look mate, how are you going? Do you need some help?’ He might tell you to go jump in the lake, but it’s not hard to ask.”
“You don’t have to go it alone, sometimes it’s good when you can ask your mate for a bit of help.”
For more information on R U OK?Day and how you can get involved, visit www.ruokday.com
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.