R U OK? Day

smiley stress ball In the era of smartphones and broadband internet, it is easy to become more connected with our digital devices than with people around us.

Australians spend an average of 46 hours per week looking at their TVs, computers and phones compared to six hours engaging with family and friends.

R U OK? Day takes place on 8 September this year. It is a time to reconnect with friends and colleagues and check on their mental health and wellbeing.

The campaign encourages people to look out for others in four steps: ask if they are okay, listen without judgement, encourage action and check on them further down the track.

So how should you respond if someone replies they are not okay? If you ask the question, be ready to spend time to listening to their answer without interrupting or rushing the conversation.

Here are some tips from the R U OK? Day website on what you can say to friends who are not feeling okay:

  • What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?
  • How would you like me to support you?
  • How are you feeling about that? How long have you felt that way?
  • What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?
  • When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this… You might find it useful too.

The R U OK? Day website encourages people to show patience and understand they do not have to ‘fix’ someone’s problem. Some people might not be ready to talk. For others, just offering a listening ear is all they need at that point in time.  An important part of the conversation is to not judge a person’s experiences or reactions but acknowledge they are going through a tough time.

If someone has been feeling really down for more than two weeks, perhaps encourage them to see a health professional.

Next month is Mental Health Week and VicTas moderator Rev Sharon Hollis is inviting congregation members to join her for a series of community events. Ms Hollis has a personal investment in ‘caring for carers’ and these events will be an opportunity to share experiences, make friends and minister to each other in a fellowship of understanding and hope.

Tuesday 11 October, 12pm
The Carer Hub peer support program lunch is hosted by UnitingCare LifeAssist and Hampton Park Uniting Church for carers of individuals living with emotional distress or mental illness. You are invited to join Carer Hub and Ms Hollis for a free lunch.
Location: Hampton Park Uniting Church – 1 Coral Dr, Hampton Park VIC 3976
RSVP: events@lifeassist.org.au

Wednesday, 12 October, 12:30pm
Clarence Uniting Church in Hobart is hosting a free Mental Health Week lunch.
Location: Clarence Uniting Church – Cnr Cambridge Rd and York St, Bellerive TAS 7018
RSVP: rev.ann55@gmail.com

Thursday, 13 October, 2pm
Hope Springs is holding a Mental Health Week service at Cross Generation Uniting Church in Heidelberg Heights.
Location: Cross Generation Uniting Church – Cnr Hellier St and Edwin St, Heidelberg Heights VIC 3084
For more information contact Rev Sandy Brodine: sandybrodine@gmail.com

For confidential advice and support 24/7, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 46.

Image: Flickr/J E Theriot

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