One simple question

R U OK Day reminds us of the impact of meaningful conversation. Is your business on board? 

It’s been a tough old year, so far. Battling an epic flu season, monkeypox fears, near constant rain thanks to La Niña, all while teetering on the brink of recession – the hits just keep on comin’.

If it feels like we’ve been saying times have been tough for a while, it’s because we have. And times have been tough. It would be a mistake to underestimate the effect the last three years has had on general well-being. The pandemic is the first mass trauma event for several decades, and it’s difficult to move on from trauma while still experiencing it.

The silent pandemic

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics landmark National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing,  7.5 per cent of Australian adults – or one in 13 – experienced depression and 16.8 per cent (one in six) experienced an anxiety condition in the past year. 

Both Lifeline and Beyond Blue have seen marked increases in the need for their services. The study reported monthly contacts were up 47 per cent for Beyond Blue and 22 per cent for Lifeline versus the same period three years ago. 

In more concerning – though perhaps not surprising – data:

  • One in six Australians have experienced suicidal thoughts or behaviours in their lifetime 
  • One in two Australians have experienced a mental health condition in their lifetime 
  • One in five people aged 16 to 34 reported high or very high levels of psychological distress
  • Two in five people have been close to someone who had taken or attempted to take their own life

What can we do about it? Ask: ‘R U OK?’

Today is R U OK Day, a national day of action that prompts Australians to start a meaningful conversation with a friend, family member or co-worker, particularly when witnessing signs that they may be struggling.  

With so many of us exhausted from the physical, emotional, psychological and financial fall-out of the pandemic, reaching out and connecting is more important than ever – and it starts with a simple question.

As one of the two in five Australians that has experienced a mental health condition in their lifetime, R U OK Day is a cause I’m particularly passionate about. I can attest to the efficacy of honest, open conversations on mental health outcomes, from my own experiences as well as those of close friends and family.  

Normalise openness in the workplace

A deep-seated need for #realtalk attracted me to IMPACT. After years of reading about (and bemoaning the lack of) authentic organisations, within the first ten minutes of meeting with the IMPACT team, I knew I had finally found one.

From my first week at IMPACT, I appreciated the candour that characterised team meetings (which certainly helps when you count Modibodi as a client!). 

I witnessed the routine recognition of effort and praise of good work, which wasn’t solely tied to business outcomes. I noticed how team members checked in with each other, regardless of title or seniority. 

A female-led business that puts people first – not just in PR strategy, but within the office – IMPACT is the kind of workplace where team members regularly ask ‘R U OK’. Just as importantly, the answer to this question is listened to, taken into account, and followed up on. 

This R U OK Day, I invite you to do the same.


Haylee Kerans, Content Director

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