September 13 marks R U OK? Day, the national day to raise awareness for suicide prevention. The campaign was founded by the late Gavin Larkin in 2009.
Larkin’s own father had suffered from crippling depression which saw him take his own life in 1995. Larkin and his family were devastated by the death and in response, Larkin vowed to start an organisation to help people in their time of need. Larkin was a passionate champion of the fact that a simple conversation could change lives. It was fom this notion the idea for R U OK? was born.
The campaign calls for all Australians to take part by checking in with family, friends and workmates with the simple question: R U OK?
The day is particularly important for small business owners, who are anecdotally more at risk of suicidal ideation than the national average.
Promoting a positive healthy work culture is not only good for employees and business owners, it’s good for the nation as it minimises risks to employees and owners’ mental health.
Watch the story of R U OK? Day
According to a report commissioned by beyondblue, at any given time about one in five people in Australia is experiencing a mental health condition – most commonly anxiety and depression. Like any health condition, anxiety and depression can affect a person’s ability to work.
By developing a simple action plan, small business owners can provide the resources to implement better workplace health for themselves and their employees.
Every workplace is different, so it is about taking this knowledge and tailoring it to suit your work environment.
Headspace offers the following tips to help create a healthy workplace
- Provide strong leadership that values employee contributions.
- Ensure organisational structures are clear, and roles and responsibilities re ect actual work duties.
- Create and implement effective policies and procedures.
- Ensure safe and healthy working conditions.
- Communicate with employees regularly about issues affecting them and the business.
- Supervise staff and offer constructive feedback.
- Provide comprehensive induction programs to help employees understand the business and their role in maintaining a mentally healthy workplace.
- Encourage a workplace culture where employees support each other and diversity is valued.
- Encourage autonomy/self-direction as appropriate.
- Facilitate open communication when problems arise.
- Offer flexible working arrangements.
- Provide opportunities for staff training and practical assistance where required.
- Encourage employee consultation and involvement in decision making.
- Provide access to counselling services and/or specialist support groups.
- In addition to these general goals, employers can implement specific strategies to address each risk factor.
You can create an action plan online, tailored to your organisation’s size, industry, needs and goals. www.headsup.org.au/actionplan
R U OK Day takes place on September 13 annually. If you or someone you know is struggling with depression or mental health issues please seek help. Call Lifeline 131141. MensLineAustralia 1300 78 99 78. Young People aged 12-25 seeking help can call Headspace 1800 650 890