Have you asked a family member, friend or work colleague ‘are you okay’ today?
Staff at Shepparton’s Wyndham House clinic will be doing so ahead of the ninth annual R U OK? day today, in support of the campaign for mental health.
The event, which started in 2009, reminds people to ask others the question: ‘‘Are you okay?’’
The R U OK? foundation works with experts in suicide prevention and mental illness, as well as government departments, corporate leaders, teachers, universities, students and community groups.
Wyndham House Clinic administrative assistant Stephanie Gassmann said starting the conversation could have a significant impact on an individual’s desire to open up about issues they may be facing.
Staff have acknowledged the event for the past two years, and will don yellow today in a bid to raise awareness for the cause and connect with staff and patients.
‘‘I think it’s definitely something that has connected us more as employees, but also with our patients,’’ Ms Gassmann said.
‘‘One year we had a man who said he was glad there was a day because it had given him the courage to open up about what he had been through and that was a tremendous deal for him.
‘‘So it’s about breaking down that stigma around suicide and encouraging people to ask the question, but also check in with that person later.’’
Ms Gassmann said issues around mental health and suicide often stemmed from people believing they could deal with issues alone or feeling as though they were a burden, as well as a lack of connection.
‘‘We hope that by asking people if they’re okay it will make a difference,’’ Ms Gassmann said.