This Thursday is R U OK? Day which encourages Australians to connect with others who might be suffering from insecurities, isolation or depression while promoting a healthy and welcoming community. Here at MIGAS we recognise that having good mental health is one of the most important aspects of life and encourage our apprentices, trainees, host employers and staff to take a moment to check with friends, family and colleagues – R U OK?
In 2009 Gavin Larkin wanted to honour his father’s memory.
Barry Larkin, a man much loved by his friends and family, committed suicide in 1995. His son Gavin wanted to find some way that would honour his father’s memory, but it also had to be consistent with the kind of man he was. “Are you ok?” was the question Gavin chose to champion with the idea that a conversation can change a life. In collaboration with Janina Nearn, the R U OK? non-profit suicide prevention organisation was formed in 2009.
Gavin Larkin, sadly, passed away in 2011 after a 19-month fight with cancer. However, his legacy remains – a national conversation movement that is equipping Australians with the skills and confidence to support others who are struggling.
What are the signs someone might need extra support? Some important things you should look out for in your mates are:
Has there been a change in their physical appearance?
- Do they look more tired than usual?
- Do they seem “flat” or drained of energy?
- Are they eating much more or much less than normal?
Have you noticed any changes in their mood?
- Do they seem more irritable?
- Appear more anxious and worried about everything, i.e. work and personal life?
- React more emotionally than the situation warrants?
Perhaps they are showing a changes in their behaviour.
- Do they seem more withdrawn than usual?
- Do they seem to no longer enjoy hobbies or interests like they once did?
- Are they are talking on a greater work load to avoid social situations?
Maybe they have changed how they express their thoughts.
- Are they struggling to see the positive sides of a situation?
- Complaining about having difficulty relaxing?
- Seem to always think about the worst of any given situation?
If you think someone is showing signs of struggling with life, it’s time to get ready for a conversation. But before you can start, make sure you are ready, be in a good headspace, be genuinely willing to listen, and be sure you can give as much time as is needed.
Make sure you are prepared, but remember you won’t have all the answers (and that’s ok) – listening is one of the most important things you can do. These talks will often get emotional or upsetting, so be ready for this.
Pick your moment, make sure you pick somewhere private and informal, have plenty of time for a long chat, and if they can’t talk when you approach them ask for a better time to come back.
Start the conversation, be relaxed, listen, encourage action and most importantly of all check in.
Having a healthy lifestyle is important and mental health is a major part of that, for more information about how you can help those around you hear are some resources R U OK? has provided:
13 11 14
1300 224 636
Suicide Call Back Service (24/7)
1300 659 467
1800 18 SANE (7263)
Stay safe everyone and remember – someone is always willing to listen.