Time to ask ‘are you OK?’

TIME TO TALK: La Trobe University design students designed this material to raise awareness about R U OK Day last year. Picture: MARK KEARNEY

TIME TO TALK: La Trobe University design students designed this material to raise awareness about R U OK Day last year. Picture: MARK KEARNEY

Australians are being encouraged to check in with friends and family who might be doing it tough as the nation marks R U OK Day tomorrow.

Organisers hoped the day would spread awareness about mental health and encourage people to have meaningful conversations about life’s ups and downs.

Lifeline Central Victoria and Mallee centre supervisor Tim Adam said asking if people were OK was important.

“I think sometimes we don’t know how people are travelling, whether they are fine or if they are struggling with life. Asking if they are OK gives you a much better feeling about whether they are alright, rather than just guessing,” he said.

The R U OK Day website offered tips for having the conversation.

“If they say they are not OK, you can follow our conversation steps to show them they’re supported and help them find strategies to better manage the load. If they are OK, that person will know you’re someone who cares enough to ask,” the website stated.

While Lifeline rarely got calls from people asking how to initiate conversations, Mr Adam said callers sometimes asked about support for friends or families struggling with suicide or undergoing a significant crisis. Lifeline would help those callers find the right support for those doing it tough.

Mr Adam wished R U OK Day took place every day and encouraged people to talk to friends or family if they thought there might be an issue.

He viewed the question “are you OK?” as an extension of the question “what do you need?” Sometimes people needed support, at other times it was enough to have someone to talk to.

“There’s something about talking about our problems that helps,” he said.

Talking could help people identify solutions or sit with pain and make it more bearable.

“It makes us organise ideas in a certain way to see the problem more clearly. It can also force us into seeing the issue in a way that could be different from that which is running around our heads.”

If you are doing it tough call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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