It is RU Okay day on Thursday. A day where people check in with each other and sure each other are okay. However, don’t make your check in feel like an obligation. If someone is not feeling okay take a moment to stop and genuinely listen. It doesn’t cost much to take ten minutes to listen and let someone just talk.
While everyone feels stress from time to time, when it persists for two weeks or longer it impacts upon your ability to function and eventually causes you serious illness. RU Okay Day on 9 September 2021 is a timely reminder for everyone to stop and check in with each other.
In the work environment mental illness costs Australian workplaces up to $11billion each year. Absenteeism makes up $4.7 billion of this figure with presenteeism (people not being fully productive but coming to work anyway) makes up $1.6 billion a year. In the community it is much higher.
Unlike physical injuries, mental injuries are harder to identify as people cover it up and avoid difficult conversations. But the distress of mental illness festers away and emerges in other physical forms such as weight loss, drug and alcohol dependency and people withdraw and disconnect from their social engagements.
This is why it is important for everyone to have a basic understanding of mental health symptoms. If you notice someone withdrawing from work, or their social activities it may be a sign to ask if they are okay and actually listen to them.
Even in 2021, there is still a stigma attached to mental health where there is a great need to educate people that depression and anxiety are real, diagnosable conditions.
It is okay to not be okay.
Talking about mental health is encouraged as many are impacted by mental illness, whether for themselves or those they know, and it is critical that the stigma is removed. When people feel safe to talk about mental illness, it is a step towards progress. When people receive treatment early, they are more likely to continue treatment and recover.
It is important to create a culture of open conversations in the community so that people do feel like it is okay to not be okay.
When you look after people, they will feel valued, engaged, productive and will want to participate in life. They feel like they can move forward and live the best life they dream of.
On the other hand, why restrict the question to just one day? If you see someone struggling at any time, you should take a moment to check in to see how they really are.