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Tips to navigate the conversation when someone is not OK

Last week the R U OK? Conversation Convoy started a six week journey across Australia in the hope to inspire people to start a conversation with anyone they might be concerned about.

R U OK? Day is held on the second Thursday in September each year (this year, the 14 September). Started in 1995 by Gavin Larkin, this national suicide prevention initiative reminds us to take particular notice of family, friends and colleagues by asking them the question R U OK?

Last week, R U OK? launched the Conversation Convoy, a six week journey around Australia which kicked off in Uluru, travelling 14,000 kilometres to most major cities and finishing in Cairns on 14 September. With a strong focus on regional towns and with the assistance of Rural & Remote Mental Health, the Conversation Convoy aims to give more people the confidence to support those who might be struggling, while raising awareness of support services across the country.

We understand most Australians know what R U OK? is about, but we want to ensure that if someone says “no, I’m not ok,” people know what to do next.
R U OK? CEO Brendan Maher

According to the National Rural Health Alliance, “The reported prevalence of mental illness in rural and remote Australia appears similar to that of major cities. Access to mental health services is substantially more limited than in major cities. Tragically, rates of self-harm and suicide increase with remoteness.”

Mental Health Professionals, Full time equivalent,
by Remoteness, 2014
  Major Cities Inner Regional Outer Regional Remote/Very Remote
FTE per 100,000 population
  16.6 6.2 4.4 3.0
Mental Health Nurses 87.3 81.5 51.2 50.9
Pyschologists 92.4 55.5 40.8 29.6
Source: https://mhsa.aihw.gov.au/resources/workforce/


R U OK? CEO Brendan Maher says the convoy is all about taking R U OK? to the next step.

“We understand most Australians know what R U OK? is about, but we want to ensure that if someone says “no, I’m not ok,” people know what to do next,” Maher said.

The Conversation Convey will build on the question “are you OK” by reinforcing the 4 Steps to a conversation, empowering Australians to ask, listen, encourage action and check in.

R U OK? - 4 Steps to a conversation - Source: https://www.ruok.org.au/

Psychologist and R U OK? advisor Rachel Clements says this isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“We know that some conversations can be really tough. But in reality, you don’t have to be an expert to start a conversation – asking shows someone you care about them and that can make a really positive difference in their life.”

The R U OK? Conversation Convoy aims to inspire everyone, no matter where they live, to invest more time in the people around them, as well as give them the skills, motivation and confidence to start a conversation with anyone they might be worried about.

Head to http://www.ruok.org.au/conversation-convoy to track the journey or find a local event between now and 14 September. Some high profile ambassadors will be joining different legs of the trip and, at most of the events, Rural & Remote Mental Health will gift a Conversation Corner (bench seat) as a legacy item, to encourage future conversations within the community.

R U OK? Conversation Convoy journey - Source: https://www.ruok.org.au/

If you or a loved one needs help, there are helplines, websites and government mental health information services providing a range of services. Click here for more information.

For more information about R U OK Day, including some amazing resources, go to R U OK? Day website

Follow on Twitter #convoconvoy #ruok #ruokday

Sarah Morrison is the Digital Content Specialist with the National Farmers' Federation

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