IT may sound like an easy question to ask, but on R U OK? Day headspace staff have urged people to listen to the answer.
On this Thursday, R U OK? Day is an annual mental health awareness day that encourages people to “trust that gut instinct” and check in on their family and friends who may not be OK.
Bathurst headspace program manger Nicki Halliwell said it can be “quite difficult for some people” to ask the question.
“It’s important that once you ask that person you are prepared to listen,” she said.
headspace youth care co-ordinator Kellie Fuller said people will often not seek help for a mental health issue as they would with a visible or physical issue.
“It’s part of our culture in Australia that we’re very stoic and very tough. It’s easier for people to accept a visible or physical injury,” she said.
“There is no shame in saying ‘no I’m not OK’.”
Ms Fuller said mental illness is directly comparable with a physical illness.
“Someone with moderate depression has the same impairment in their functionality as a severe asthmatic,” she said.
The duo said mental health issues can initially present as changes in behaviour, including: mood, self isolation, weight gain or loss.
“It can often be a cluster of changes,” Ms Halliwell said.
Ms Halliwell said: “There’s stigma. People still see mental wellbeing as a weakness where in fact we all need support in our lives”.
“If you’re unwell you go and see a doctor, but if we’re emotionally unwell it doesn’t tend to be the first thought of going to see someone.”
R U OK? Day suggestions to get involved and help someone are to: Ask the question, listen without judgement, encourage action if the person says they are not OK, and then check in with them again on another day.
Bathurst headspace is a free youth-friendly service that focuses on young people aged 12 to 25 years old.
Springvale Mine have marked R U OK? Day by introducing the MATES In Mining program with the goal of helping workers identify mental health problems and suicidal tendencies in their workmates.
“Everyone in the industry must play their part to improve the mental health and wellbeing of workers and to reduce suicide rates. It cannot be left to the mental health professionals alone,” said MATES in Mining project manager Andrew McMahon.
“It’s a simple program… It’s really just Mates helping Mates – something we are all brilliant at.”
- Contact headspace on 6338 1100
- For help in a crisis call Lifeline on 13 11 14