National R U OK? Day is today, 14 September. For those that don’t know what the organisation, R U OK? is, let me briefly explain.
What is R U OK?
R U OK? is a public health promotion charity that encourages people to stay connected and help the people in their lives through difficult times by initiating conversations. What makes R U OK? unique is they focus on building the courage and confidence of those who can help someone through a difficult season. A large part of this work is in suicide prevention. The organisation encourages people to invest more time and intention into their personal relationships by building an informal network of support, being alert and aware of signs, and being willing to engage in conversations before someone is in a crisis.
At the core of R U OK? is the belief that a conversation could save a life and that we all have a part to play in looking out for those we care about. Which leads us to 14 September, National R U OK? Day.
14 September – Asking, “Are you OK?”
Thursday, 14 September 2023, is the national day of action when R U OK? reminds Australians to ask, “Are you OK?” and start a meaningful conversation when they notice someone in their life struggling. By initiating an “Are you OK?” conversation and genuinely listening to what the other person has to say, we can help the people in our worlds feel connected, heard and supported. But why is this something the Freedom Hub is interested in?
How can we engage today?
In Australia, 8.6 people die by suicide every day.
It’s estimated that 65,000 Australians attempt death by suicide every year.
Over 10 million Australians, almost half of the population, have been personally impacted by suicide.
The work R U OK? does is changing lives. While they don’t offer crisis support or counselling services, their work as informal support is vital. We need to acknowledge that every single one of us has mental health. Some of us are struggling through life, and some feel like there isn’t anyone who cares, anyone to turn to, or anyone who wants to listen. Those of us with good mental health must be willing to educate ourselves to be aware of our friends, co-workers, family members, and housemates who are struggling and often struggling in silence. We all have a role to play, even if it’s as small as asking someone, “Are you OK?”
The work we do with many of our survivors involves working through trauma caused by modern slavery. This work is so important but it’s also difficult work. It can be mentally and emotionally exhausting work for our survivors and taking an extra moment to hold space for a conversation about their mental health could be life saving. It can also be taxing for our team and volunteers. R U OK? Day stands as an important reminded for us to check in our colleagues and fellow volunteers, holding space for a conversation about their mental well-being and health.
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*Information in this blog was gathered from the official R U OK? website, here.