The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) recently reported that one in five Australians are reporting high or very high levels of psychological distress connected to the COVID-19 pandemic.1 ABS’s latest Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey was run in mid-June, before the onset of the current lockdowns in NSW, Victoria and ACT.
Psychological distress is disproportionately felt, with young people, women and those living with a disability most impacted. Victorians were the most affected state or territory, with 27% experiencing high or very high levels of psychological distress, compared to the national average of 18%.
After a relatively free and smooth sailing first half of the year, the prolonged lockdowns impacting more than half our population is taking its toll. In mid-August, Lifeline reported its highest daily number of calls in the organisation’s history, beating the record set earlier that same week.2
Whether it’s patients or colleagues, friends or family, chances are that you will know someone currently experiencing poor mental health. While sometimes mental health challenges are noticeable and people feel comfortable talking about it, there are many who go unnoticed and suffer in silence.
R U OK? Day
Thursday 9 September is R U OK? Day. Held every second Thursday in September, R U OK? Day is a national day of action when Australians are reminded that every day is the day to ask ‘are you okay?’ if someone you know is struggling with life’s ups and downs.
R U OK? was founded in 2009 to help with suicide prevention. Co-founder Gavin Larkin OAM wanted to help protect families from the same pain his family had suffered from his own father’s suicide.
This year’s R U OK? Day message is ‘Are they really OK? Ask them today’, highlighting the importance of knowing how the people in your world are really going. Don’t wait until someone’s visibly distressed or in crisis. Make a moment meaningful and ask them how they’re really going.
When you feel someone is not quite themselves, follow the four steps:
- Ask R U OK?
- Listen with an open mind;
- Encourage action;
- Check in.
By following the four steps of ‘Ask, Listen, Encourage Action and Check in’ when you feel someone is not quite themselves, can go a long way in helping those around you who may be going through a tough time.
The R U OK? organisation provides a number of helpful resources to utilise throughout the year, including information on how to continue on a conversation after you ask “are you ok?” Access these at ruok.org.au
Last month ACA held a webinar titled Mental Health for Primary Care, hosted by Dr Peter Tuchin. Peter is a Director for Lifeline and volunteers on the telephone crisis support 13 11 14 number, taking calls from people with mental health problems. To view a recording of this webinar, visit members.chiro.org.au/webinar-library
The ACA HR Service offers support and resources to help you create a mentally healthy practice. If you need assistance supporting a staff member with their mental health or are looking for resources to ensure employees are supported, visit members.chiro.org.au/hrservice
If you or anyone you know needs immediate help, don’t hesitate to contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Headspace on 1800 650 890.
Are they really OK? Ask them today. Your conversation could change a life.
- Australian Bureau of Statistics. 2021. Household Impacts of COVID-19 Survey, June 2021. [online] Available at: https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/people/people-and-communities/household-impacts-covid-19-survey/jun-2021 [Accessed 16 August 2021].
- Lifeline, 2021. Australians reaching out for help in record numbers. [online] Available at: https://www.lifeline.org.au/media/0olpjjfq/20210820-australians-reaching-out-for-help-in-record-numbers.pdf [Accessed 20 August 2021].