R U OK?Day: Ask those really important questions today

IT’s R U OK?Day and we’re being asked to take the time to check in on our loved ones, friends and colleagues and start those important conversations that could help someone through a difficult or stressful period in their lives.

R U OK? launched ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’ to encourage all Australians to think about how the people in their world are really going.

‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’, comes in response to new research which found 22 per cent of Australians aren’t reaching out to ask ‘are you OK?’ because there hasn’t been an occasion where they felt someone needed their help.

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“R U OK? is encouraging all Australians to pause and consider how the people in their world are really going, and to make asking ‘are you OK?’, a part of their everyday,” said Katherine Newton, R U OK? CEO.

The call comes as Australian mark R U OK?Day, today – a national day of action that reinforces the importance of staying connected with your friends, family and colleagues through all life’s ups and downs, big or small.

“We want to emphasise that an R U OK? conversation is not only for when someone is visibly distressed or in crisis and remind everyone that their support can make a difference for anyone who is struggling.”

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The research also found that seven per cent of those surveyed felt it’s a conversation you don’t need to have unless someone seems to be in a really bad way, or in crisis.

“None of us are immune to life’s challenges whether that’s a relationship breakdown, financial worries, work pressure or, sadly for some, the loss of a loved one,” said Ms Newton.

“Sometimes it won’t be obvious that someone is having a hard time but we know that when we ask early and in a genuine way, we can help someone who might be struggling feel connected and supported, long before they are in crisis.”

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R U OK? has released a range of free resources including tips and tools to help Australians know when and how to have an R U OK? conversation.

Joining R U OK? to champion the ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’ message is Glenn Cotter, an R U OK? Community Ambassador from the Bega Valley in NSW who has committed to starting R U OK? conversations in his community.

We all face challenging times and, in my community, it’s been a challenging few years.

We have come out of many years of drought through bushfires into COVID 19 so it was important that we continued to get the R U OK? message out through the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla Shires as we continue to rebuild a strong proud community,” says Mr Cotter who recommends the ‘Guide to supporting R U OK?Day’ as a good starting point for people wanting to get involved this year.

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“Since joining R U OK? in 2018 we have continued to connect our community through a series of family & community days, including events such as the Kameruka Cricket Club Cricket and Conversation days which began in 2019 and help in getting meaningful conversations started all year round.

“It’s such a pleasure to see the confidence growing in our community to support our mates and genuinely ask our mates and family are you OK?”

It’s also important for people to understand that when conversations happen, they do make a difference.

“Research has found 80 per cent of those who have recently spoken to someone about something that’s troubling them feel more supported and cared about and 72 per cent said it helped them feel better about themselves and their situation,” says Ann-Maree Fardell Hartley, Registered Psychologist and Suicidologist.

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“Everyone has a role to play in ensuring the people in their world feel connected and supported,” says Ms Fardell Hartley.

“The free tools and resources that R U OK? have available can help you build your confidence to support your friends, family and colleagues. You don’t have to be an expert, just a good friend and a great listener.”

R U OK? is providing guidance on the times people might need to be asked ‘are you OK?’ and how you can make a meaningful moment through having an R U OK? conversation.

Download the free resources including the ‘Guide to supporting R U OK?Day’ here.

For support at any time of day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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