A Community Effort
Yesterday was R U OK Day, an Australia-wide campaign advocating for the normalisation of meaningful conversations.
Our company teamed up with DSTILL Drinkware, Precinct Brewing, Construction Skills Queensland, and Smelly Balls to create a day full of hot dogs, fun, and good chats. We had guests from LSKD and Fitstop Coomera, and ate some great tucker from Wiener Haus. Overall, seeing so many people come together for a good cause was heartwarming.
The theme this year was ‘No Qualifications Needed.’
Taken from their website,
“Our research has found four in ten Australians feel asking someone “are you OK?” is a conversation better had with an expert. However, R U OK? want you to know you don’t need qualifications to have an R U OK? conversation. The work of health professionals is vital, and their value cannot be underestimated; however, we can all play a role in supporting the people in our world. You don’t need to be an expert to have an R U OK? conversation. Listening and giving someone your time might be just what they need to help them through. Ask R U OK? No qualifications needed, because a conversation could change a life.”
What a great message, and one we truly believe in.
Videos, Interviews, and Guest Speakers
Despite being sick with COVID, General Manager Ricky Gatti appeared in a virtual interview with our Digital Content Creator, Trinity. They discussed their personal journeys with mental health and a moment when a conversation changed their lives. Ricky felt that the messaging really spoke to him as, only a few years ago, it was his wife Sarah that had intervened in a moment when it was almost too late.
“I felt that I had to be 100% perfect all the time. To say it’s OK not to be OK is a really good one for me. There’s nothing that shouldn’t be on the table when you’re trying to get well. And there’s nothing that should stop you from living and continuing to be here every day.”
Trinity had a similar story and remains grateful to her mother for stepping in and asking ‘R U OK’ when it mattered the most:
“I don’t know whether I’d be here if it wasn’t for her, or if it wasn’t for people who weren’t afraid to reach out and ask ‘R U OK?’”
You can watch the video for yourself here.
Following, Trinity spoke about the messaging behind R U OK Day and the simple steps anyone can take to reach out to a person in their lives who may be struggling. It’s crazy to think that almost half of Australians believe they’re unqualified to ask a mate if they’re OK. She talked through the simple steps to have an R U OK conversation – Ask, Listen, Encourage positive action, and Check-in. She ended by encouraging everyone to take the premise of R U OK Day seriously.
“Take a moment to consider who you’ll ask, when you’ll ask, how you’ll ask and importantly, why they’re asking – is it a tick box exercise, or is it a genuine reason? Make the moment meaningful, you’ve got what it takes.”
We then welcomed our first guest, General Manager at Flock’d GRP and former NBL1 player for the Cairns Taipans, Dwayne Vale, who had his own story to share. Dwayne spoke about how his community banded together and was intentional about stepping in to support him in a tough time, even when he wasn’t willing to admit it. He had a lot to say when asked about the challenges men face in being vulnerable about their mental health.
It was fantastic to receive some insights into mental health literacy and learn about our local resources. It was crazy to find out that over 75% of mental health issues occur before the age of 25. At the same time, suicide continues to cause the largest loss of life of young people in Australia. Headspace offers excellent resources for people aged 12-25, and provide bulk-billed counselling support to young people who need it. You can find out more about Headspace here.
A Different Take…
We then heard from Jason Banks from This is a Conversation Starter, a “free and confidential counselling service for truckies, tradies, rural, blue-collar workers and those who care about them, available Australia-wide.” Jason provided a different perspective on R U OK Day, particularly around the conflicting feelings that many people have about the day.
“It can have an adverse effect, a day like today. Some of the stats don’t change – 9 Aussies will still take their own life, 7 being male.”
And it’s true. While the idea behind R U OK is positive, the over-commercialisation of the day can drown the message in yellow cupcakes. And, in an R U OK conversation, the ask-ee must also be willing to be vulnerable. Jason quoted one of TIACS’ co-founders, Ed Ross: “How about instead of worrying about everyone else today, let’s start by showing some vulnerability and honesty ourselves. You lead the way……”
In fact, we were one of only two presentations that Jason was giving that day.
“I decided to come down to this event because Coolphase reached out, and when I spoke to Ricky and Trinity, I felt like this was a great community.”
Much of what he spoke about centred around that second person in an R U OK conversation and the importance of mental health awareness, especially within the blue-collar industry. 30% of Australians are tradies, yet a construction worker will take their own life every second day.
“It’s like our own pandemic that we have within Australia.”
And, as the old saying goes, when it comes to having an R U OK conversation, “You gotta fill your own cup up before you can fill others.”
A blunt message, but an important one.
Both Genevieve and Jason rejoined Trinity for a panel to answer essential questions from the audience about mental health. One of the questions stated simply – “I don’t get why mental health is such a big deal.”
Jason: “I don’t like to use the word ‘stigma’, but it’s become a word that’s been used a lot. But I explain mental health the same way I explain physical health. They’re both equally as important.”
Genevieve: “Mental health encompasses so many things. You’re not just talking about mental ill health, you’re talking about being mentally well too.”
You can find out more about TIACS here.
It began to rain as we packed up marquees and folded down the trestle tables. Within moments, the yellow chalk stencils on the carpark, proudly declaring that ‘We Make Time to Ask – R U OK?’ were already beginning to fade. But the spirit of the day won’t. We, as a company, are committed to bringing R U OK into our every day and making an effort to promote mental health awareness and support our employees no matter the calendar date.
We also want to lift up other significant days, like Saturday’s Suicide Prevention day. Did you know that 2 in 5 Australians know someone who has attempted to or has taken their own life? Our hearts go with our sales manager, Linda Keon, who will participate in Walk for Awareness to commemorate this important day.
We’ll end with a final message from Jason Banks – ‘If anything discussed here resonated with you, reach out and open up now.’
Overall, a great day, and the proceeds made through donations were donated to R U OK Day.
If you need assistance, reach out to someone you trust, a GP or mental health professional, or call Lifeline crisis support on their 24/7 service – 13 11 14. If you or someone you know is in danger, call 000. You can find more resources on the R U OK Day website or through TIACS and Headspace.