R U OK… Three simple words that can mean all the difference for about 20% of the population (if not more). That’s about 5,109,328 Australians who experience a mental illness in any given year. With Covid affecting our everyday lives significantly, this number could be even higher. I was visiting my doctor the other week. As you can imagine with Covid about, the reception staff were wearing the brunt of all the upset patients. So it was really lovely to learn that my doctor had spent a little time with the staff, supporting them and being that compassionate ear. BUT it’s not just the disgruntled people that can bring you down. Its also the changes in life, illness in the family, fights with your loved ones, breakups, and so many other things. I work a lot in this support realm within my capacity as a Peer Support Officer for the State Emergency Service. Sometimes it is related to an activation and other times it‘s something completely unrelated to the job. It is an honour to be trusted with the confidentiality of my fellow colleagues for what they are experiencing. Sometimes it’s just being that compassionate ear, other times it’s affirming that what they are experiencing is very normal. Most importantly, it is recognising that what they are dealing with may benefit from speaking with a professional.

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These days the health of your mind is becoming more of an open conversation and it’s ok not to be ok. Caring for the health of your mind is just as important as your car getting serviced, or getting that morning cuppa while it’s hot. Please Ask…. Listen…. Encourage further help…. And check in again to see how it is all going. Set yourself up right. It is not just about asking the question, it’s about listening with an open mind, not trying to fix them or pass judgement. Ask them “how would you like me to support you” or “How have you managed this in the past?” Then set a reminder for a couple of weeks to check in, see how they are. If you think this is a big issue or they have been feeling down for a few weeks, encourage them to see a health professional.

You can make a difference every day, not just today.

How does your workplace foster good mental health?