R U OK Day? 2022 and Covid Safe Activities
Thursday 8th September 2022 | R U OK? is a charity that focuses on harm prevention with the purpose of encouraging people to stay connected and through conversations help others through difficult and challenging times. In particular R U OK? focuses on equipping the person who isn’t experiencing difficult times with the tools and knowledge to have a meaningful conversation with someone who may be struggling. This in turn will also raise awareness of the importance of mental health. One of the key purposes of R U OK? is to contribute to the prevention of suicide by encouraging people to build meaningful relationships and invest more time in building informal support networks. Informal support networks refer to friends, family and colleagues and to be aware of those around them. R U OK? biggest event is R U OK? day this is an annual industry-wide event that falls on the second Thursday in September, this year Thursday, September 8th 2022. We will explore how to conduct R U OK? Day in an era of social distancing and what virtual activities can be implemented, as well as the importance of mental health and how to build an R U OK? workplace and culture.
Why is mental health important?
Mental health affects multiple facets of our lives mental health affects how we think, feel and act as we go through life. It also impacts how we deal with stress; relate to others and choices that we make. Mental health can be affected by several factors:
- Biological factors, such as brain chemistry.
- Life experiences, such as abuse or trauma.
- Lifestyle factors, diet, and physical activity.
Mental health is important because it can help you cope with stress in your life, have good relationships, be physically healthy and be more productive and contribute positively to your workplace.
It is also important to acknowledge that mental health can change over time. There are many things that can be done to improve mental health. This is one of the main objectives of the R U OK? movement. To positively impact the mental health of people experiencing difficult times. This leads us to the importance of building an R U OK? workplace culture, providing a safe, comfortable and supportive workplace can impact positively on the mental health of employees who are suffering.
Build an R U OK? Workplace and Culture
To ensure you provide your employees with the best opportunities to impact their mental health positively it is important to build a safe environment. R U OK? day is great but let’s focus on becoming an R U OK? workplace champion and building a culture where every day your employees feel comfortable to be open about their struggles and seek help if necessary. Building an R U OK? workplace culture will encourage everyone to talk about life’s ups and downs and create a supportive community at work. You don’t need a large budget to build an R U OK? workplace, in fact you can do this with little to no budget. All you need to do is promote life-changing conversation and encourage everyone to ask R U OK? whenever it is needed. Let’s look at what an R U OK? culture in your workplace would look like.
- Ensuring there are programs and resources available to employees who might be struggling which they can access at any time for the appropriate help to assist their recovery.
- Actively identify and manage situations that can cause unnecessary stress for your team members.
- The Senior leadership team promotes a supportive culture and believes that this is critical to long term success.
- R U OK? is endorsed as part of leadership development and is integral to the culture of the business so that it trickles down to the employee level.
- Encourage and recognise individuals in the organisation who support the implementation of an R U OK? culture.
- Create a formal peer support program that develops your R U OK? champions.
- Share stories that demonstrate the power of conversation and inspire everyone to be a better human.
R U OK? Covid Safe activities
- Host a digital event: in certain situations, we need to make use of technology that can bring people together virtually. Organise a virtual gathering and encourage employees to turn their cameras on. If you register your event with R U OK? they will assist you and send you a pack to facilitate your event.
- Distribute information via email and social channels: this is important as it shows people that even though you may not be able to reach out face to face it is important to check in with people any way you can. Publish blogs and create a company vlog or social media post that shows the power of connections and conversation.
- Meet outside the office: perhaps organise to go on a walk and talk with your colleagues. If exercise is permitted use the opportunity to go for a walk with someone and ask them if they are ok.
- Create a conversation quiz: Create an online quiz for employees to participate in. There are many free tools such as Kahoot which is a great way to interact with your workforce online.
- Engagement Survey: Conduct a well-being survey this may encourage employees to be honest about anything that is bothering them or affecting them mentally.
- Organise a guest speaker: This can be organised in person or online. An experienced guest speaker may be able to provide employees with the courage to speak up as well as provide other employees with the right skills to identify struggling employees.
- Online Training: Offer online training to employees around mental health to raise awareness of the issue and to assist them in picking up when someone is suffering from mental health issues.
R U OK? day is now more important than ever after the 2 year isolation period experienced due to the impact of the coronavirus. It is important that organisation implement all measures possible to ensure the mental wellbeing of their employees.