Health

R U OK? REALLY OK?!

R U OK Day is an annual day dedicated to remind people to ask family, friends and colleagues ‘R U OK?’

In our Healthy Mummy Community, we know all too well that mums can feel often feel overwhelmed but fail to really identify what’s wrong.

The challenging feelings that come with motherhood can then affect other areas of life including the relationship with your partner and friends or physical and mental self-care.

The fact is being a mother some days feels like surviving instead of living. And that’s ok!

What’s also OK, is to know when to ask for help.

R U Ok? day

R U OK? REALLY OK?!

In Australia, it’s estimated that 45 percent of people will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime.

In any one year, around 1 million Australian adults have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety.

By inspiring people to take the time to ask “Are you OK?” and listen, we can help people struggling, long before they even think about suicide. It all comes down to regular, face-to-face, meaningful conversations about life. And asking “Are you OK?” is a great place to start.

Signs to look out for

Rachel Clements, the Director of Psychological Services at the Centre for Corporate Health (CFCH) and a member of the R U OK? Conversation Think Tank, explains the signs that someone may be at risk of suicide and how we can talk about this sensitive and important issue.

“The signs may be subtle, but it’s likely that you’ll pick up on a number of indicators that someone is struggling. As everyone is different and may respond differently to these thoughts and feelings, it’s important you trust your gut instinct when you notice a shift or change in someone and reach out to them,” Rachel said.

The non-verbal signs that indicate it’s time to reach out to someone include social withdrawal, a persistent drop in mood, disinterest in maintaining personal hygiene or appearance, uncharacteristically reckless behaviour, poor diet changes, rapid weight changes, being distracted, anger, insomnia, alcohol or drug abuse and giving away sentimental or expensive possessions.

Indirect verbal expressions include hopelessness, failing to see a future, believing they are a burden to others, saying they feel worthless or alone and talking about their death or wanting to die.

“People who have thought about suicide say the most important thing family, friends and colleagues can do is listen, show they care, and offer support,” says Rachel.

“There are three things to keep front of mind. Firstly, people who open up or disclose thoughts of suicide have often chosen that person very carefully. So, if someone opens up to you it’s an indication they trust you or see something in you that resonates with them and has enabled them to come forward.

“Secondly, if they’ve opened up it’s usually because they want help. They are already in the mindset of reaching out and wanting support, so it’s your role to be the vehicle that steers them in the right direction.

“Thirdly, it’s an invitation to step into a conversation with them, so don’t shut it down even if you’re uncomfortable,” she says.

If you think someone is at immediate risk call 000 and ask for an ambulance. Stay by their side whilst waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

The facts:

  • Approximately 8 people die by suicide every day in Australia.
  • Every one of these lives lost represents someone’s partner, child, parent, friend or workmate.
  • For every death, it’s estimated at least another 30 attempt to end their own life.
  • It doesn’t discriminate. Suicide occurs across demographics.

How to ask R U OK?

Starting an R U OK? conversation? Use these four steps:
1. Ask R U OK?
2. Listen
3. Encourage action
4. Check in

Listen without judgement

  • Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation.
  • Don’t judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that things seem tough for them.
  • If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence.
  • Encourage them to explain: “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt that way?”
  • Show that you’ve listened by repeating back what you’ve heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly.

Encourage them to seek help

If they’ve been feeling really down for more than 2 weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say, “It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I’m happy to assist you to find the right person to talk to.”

Most importantly, CHECK-IN often!

Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.

R U OK? Really?

It’s OK to say that you are not OK! Today just might be the day to reach out and get the support you really need.

Where to get help

If you feel depressed or are suffering from depression and or anxiety, we advise you to seek help from your GP or call Lifeline 13 11 14, Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia [PANDA] 1300 726 306 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36.

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tracy-hardy
written by:

Tracy Hardy

Tracy has been a digital content producer for the past 9 years. Mum of two boys, slowly finding her way through the tween and teen years at the same time. Beach lover. Terrible housekeeper. Tea drinker. Wine sipper, who sadly can't eat cheese or ice cream. Life is cruel!