R U OK day takes place on the 9th of September every year and is aimed at empowering individuals to ask, listen and support friends or family who may be dealing with depression, anxiety or other mental stressors that can impact a person’s wellbeing. Ruokay.org.au outlines 4 main steps to ask if these important people in your life “Are they really ok?”
- Ask them R U OK?
- Listen to their response
- Encourage action in the form of seeking support, developing good nutritional habits or being more physically active! It may mean simply taking them for a walk to get things off their chest.
- Check in more regularly! It isn’t just important to ask once off, continue to conversation regularly to ensure you give them a platform to discuss what they may have been dealing with.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around 20% of Australians had a mental health condition as of 2018, of which this increased from 18% in 2014-2015. 3.2 million Australians are dealing with anxiety and 1 in 10 individuals experience depression, surprisingly for some the highest risk of mental health conditions seen among women aged 15-24 where there is a prevalence of 30% among this age bracket and gender.
Mental health issues don’t discriminate, just like COVID-19 anyone and everyone can be influenced. Some more than others, however it is important to start the conversation with your close mates and family so that we can get through this tough situation together.
As Australia enters another month of lockdowns, the implications of the Coronavirus Pandemic not only for the economy but also our psychological wellbeing reaches new heights. In recent weeks, Beyond blue received the most calls on a day in the organisations history which is good in that we are more willing to reach out as a society, however it also shows the prevalence of these conditions.
2. Listen & Encourage Actions
Exercise between two individuals, wearing masks and socially distanced 1.5 meters is an acceptable means to meet with another individual in the 5km radius of your local government area. If you know of any friends or family within this radius give them a call and ask them if they are okay. Take action by scheduling a short walk to enable them the opportunity to speak about their feelings. Exercise is a fantastic opportunity to not only get some fresh air, sunshine and socialise but also the opportunity to improve your physical wellbeing. There is a plethora of research out there that highlights the role of exercise in combatting depression or anxiety and improving cognitive function and motor learning. All it takes is 30 minutes every day to notice many of these health benefits.
Exercise improves mental health reducing anxiety, depression and negative mood by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. Thirty minutes, three days a week is all that is needed to notice many of these health benefits and it doesn’t have to be continuous only three blocks of 10 minute walks each day produces can be equally effective. The benefits of exercise should be reinforced by every mental health professional for their patients including things like improved sleep quality, increased interest in sex, better endurance, energy and stamina, stress relief, improved mood, weight reduction and reduced blood markers for cholesterol and cardiovascular fitness.
3. Check In
How do we know if someone is going through silent battles that we don't know anything about? How do we know if they are struggling with themselves?Start the conversation with a friend, family member or work colleague this Thursday and take action on Australia’s mental health. Check out our blog on tips how to start a conversation.
If you’re finding life tough or need some extra support, it can help to talk about how you’re feeling with someone you trust.
You and your loved ones can find support by contacting your local doctor or one of these crisis lines:
Lifeline (24/7) 0- 13 11 14
Suicide Call Back Service (24/7) - 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue (24/7) - 1300 224 636
Kids Helpline (24/7, for youth 5-25) - 1800 55 1800
MensLine (24/7) - 1300 78 99 78
Family and friends can also call upon these services for advice and assistance on how to support someone who is struggling with life.