R U OK? It’s a simple question.

This Thursday (12th of September) is R U OK? Day.

Mental health affects all Australians at some point in their life; it doesn’t discriminate age, gender, class or profession.

However, the construction industry in particular has taken a pretty hard hit recently, with workers six times more likely to die from suicide than an accident at work. That’s 190 suicidal deaths each year. That’s one death every second day.

Yeah, that’s not okay.

So what can we do about it? Well, this day acts as a great reminder of the power in a simple conversation. A simple question.

See, it’s not always obvious that someone might be struggling – after all, we’re not mind readers. So how are we supposed to know when to ask?

Well, there are often small changes you can pick up on that signal there could be something a bit more serious going on. Things like:

1. Changes in their appearance

Looking more tired, eating more or less than usual, seeming fidgety or nervous.

2. Changes in mood

Seeming more irritable, anxious or angry; overwhelmed by tasks that were previously manageable.

3. Changes in behaviour

Seem more withdrawn than usual, with difficulty concentrating and avoiding social situations with others.

4. Changes in how thoughts are expressed

Struggling to see the positive sides, always seeing the worst in a situation or saying things that sound confusing or irrational.

e.g. “I knew I’d get the toughest roster – they’ve got it in for me”

Now if you’ve identified that maybe someone isn’t doing too well…what are you going to do about it? Asking the question may seem easy in concept, but when it comes to actually bringing it up – especially in a work environment – it might become daunting or uncomfortable.

Luckily R U OK? Day have put together a handy little guide to asking a colleague if they’re okay.

Remember, whether or not someone is showing any warning signs, it doesn’t hurt to ask the simple question. R U OK? It could save a life.

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