FIFO Life Part 26: R U OK Day – what it SHOULD be.


FIFO Focus Director Sandra Lam joins Big Al as part of the REDFM series FIFO Life.

In part 26, Sandra talks to Big Al about R U OK Day, its issues and suggestions on what should be done.


The Annual R U OK day.

The second Thursday in September each year marks RUOK Day. Your workplace may or may not be doing something for it. They may be putting posters around the place or there might be a special morning tea – a get together, with drinks, cupcakes and sausage rolls, probably maybe even yellow and black balloons.

The purpose of this day is to remind people to ask their friends, family and colleagues the million-dollar question – “R U OK” – in a meaningful way.

What many people misunderstand is that they think it’s about asking that question on just that day. That was not the intent of the R U OK organisation.

We’ve heard stories of people who suffer from mental ill health dreading that day for a number of reasons:

  • Because their workplace puts it on their social calendar alongside Melbourne Cup day.
  • Because on this day, people mingle and small talk and even laugh as they ask “R U Ok”
  • Because quite simply, it’s seen as lip service for a topic that is very serious.

Here’s what we think. If you genuinely want to help people, to help them recover from mental ill health, you need to understand one important thing:

People who need help want to know that you truly care and will be there to support their recovery journey, long after the cupcakes and sausage rolls plates have emptied.

So how SHOULD you treat R U OK day?

We think you should take a C.P.R. approach to R U OK Day. To explain:

The C is for COMMITMENT: commit to restart fostering good quality, ongoing relationships. It is only after some time and connectedness that people who need help, will open up.

The P stands for PRACTICE PRESENCE. Promise yourself that when you speak to anyone from that day forward, that you remain physically and emotionally present. That means really paying attention. Don’t let your eyes dart around the room looking for the next person to talk to – it’s not a night club nor is it a networking function.

Finally, the R stands for RECONNECT and REACH: Really think about the friends you have lost contact with. Life does get away from us but sometimes it pays to go back and reconnect with those people who have been a part of your life. Arrange a catch up with an old mate you haven’t seen for a while (1 on 1) and don’t take no for an answer. The reach part is reaching out to develop new connections. Find someone who you think you have very little in common with and really challenge yourself to find a commonality… and go from there. Go in with a curious mind.

You never know, you might save a life just by being present and listening – and wouldn’t that be awesome?

The content in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. We recommend consulting with a registered health practitioner or contacting us for more tailored support.

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