As R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton explains, asking the question about somebody’s mental health shouldn’t be a token effort. “Don’t wait until someone is visibly distressed or in crisis before you ask. If you ask them in a genuine way, your support can make a difference whatever they are facing.”
She adds, “The ups and downs of life can affect each of us differently. Sometimes it won’t be obvious that someone is struggling, but having the support of family, friends and close colleagues can help us better navigate the challenges that come our way. In a time when so many of us are feeling fatigued by the pandemic, we want to remind and reassure Australians that there is something we can all do to support those in our world, and as those closest to them we are often in a position to do so.”
The pandemic and lockdown has only exacerbated mental health issues that were already prevalent across Australia, so much so that experts had already dubbed it the “shadow pandemic”. Crisis lines have experienced a record number of callers through the past year and a half and treatment facilities and resources have been stretched thin. If you are struggling or know someone who is, the R U OK? Website is a great resource. It offers a number of tips on how to help others if they admit they are struggling, or yourself. Other organisations are also offering support, with Beyond Blue providing a 24-hour Coronavirus Mental Well-being Support Service. Calling 1800 512 348 will help you get tips and strategies for support from counsellors as well as referrals to other services if needed.
It goes without saying that mental health should be a priority of everyone, always, not just one day of the year. Still, R U OK? serves as a poignant reminder to stay connected and continue having these conversations, even if you might not visibly see someone in distress. It’s only by having these conversations that we might begin to remove the stigma associated with mental health.
For support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4635, or Mensline Australia on 1300 78 9978.