Don’t be afraid to ask the question, R U OK?

Today is the day to reach out to someone who may be struggling with life.

R U OK? Day – the second Thursday in September – started in 2009 and has grown from strength to strength in recent years.

The national awareness campaign aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life.

Mental health is a complicated issue but a simple question can make a big difference, and with more than 3000 Australians dying by suicide each year, today is a good reminder to think about how you might be able to step in early to help a friend or colleague in need.

Asking the question is important but so is what comes next and this year there seems to be a bigger emphasis on what to do and how to respond if someone says “no” they are not okay.

R U OK? has come up with a four-step strategy to guide people through a conversation.

Listening, encouraging action and offering support, without judgement, are the most important things, along with following up to check in with them again soon.

Continuing with the mental health theme National Mental Health Week is coming up, from October 8 to 14, again putting the spotlight on how we can help ourselves and each other attain and maintain mental wellness.

However, these events, while a handy reminder, should not be the only time we think about checking in with friends, relatives and colleagues.

It is about making it a regular part of what we do as individuals and as a society, to create a culture where it is okay – and more importantly encouraged – to talk about how you are feeling and let people know if you are not coping.

For more details on how to approach someone and how to respond, there is plenty of information online at www.ruok.org.au.

Local Standby Support After Suicide coordinator Jen Snook, pictured, will also be at The Rogue and Rascal today (where staff will be asking customers R U OK?) to hand out information and be available if someone needs support or assistance with what to do and where to go for help.

If you or someone you know needs support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit beyondblue.org.au.