Today in Australia we are asking people to take the time to stop and think about the mental health of our friends or work colleagues. Mental health issues are very common with one in six Australians likely to to suffer with an mental illness problem in their life.
Today it’s time to acknowledge this and to ask the question “are you ok?”. R U OK day is an excellent opportunity to reach out to a mate.
For many people mental illness can be scary. We rarely get educated on dealing with issues like depression or anxiety, heck even first aid courses totally ignore mental health emergencies.
Today I wanted to reassure you that you can never do harm by asking a friend if they are struggling. Asking the question is the first step towards health.
Having spent a lot of time working in mental health I’ve found one of the biggest barriers to getting help is fear. Fear of stigma, fear of discrimination and fear that perhaps, just perhaps that asking the question could lead to more harm.
What I’ve found is that it’s actually the exact opposite.
By asking a friend or colleague “are you ok?” you create a space where a person can feel free to be honest and to reach out for help. Good news is that if you have a friend that is struggling you don’t have to fix the problem, just listening and hearing is a great start.
If you are unsure what way to turn your local family doctor or hospital can be a great resource. Don’t be afraid to reach out, doctors like myself are trained to deal with these situations.
Other resources include Lifeline on 13 11 14, SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) or beyondblue within Australia. If you feel there is immediate danger to yourself or your friend never hesitate to call for an ambulance or police on 000 in Australia, 911 in the USA, 999 in the UK or 111 in New Zealand.
Yours in good health,