“Whenever you notice a change, no matter how small, we want you to trust your gut and start an R U OK? conversation.”

Today, the 12th of September is national ‘R U OK?’ day. Held annually, this national day is committed to starting conversations surrounding mental health, acting as a catalyst for community connection and support. This day advocates for not just a onetime check in to ask “RUOK?” but asks of us to collectively support others regularly each day of the year, especially those who may be struggling with the “ups and downs of life”.

‘RUOK?’ a non-government organisation which focuses on suicide prevention established RUOK? day as a conversational movement. This movement was developed to provide a new innovative avenue for mental health support and community connection. Gavin Larkin, the co-founder of RUOK? explains this day to be about “…getting connected and staying connected…” which as he explains is “…the best thing anyone can do for themselves and for those who may be at risk.”

As Larkin argues, research indicates that eliciting a conversation, listening and actively engaging with others is a pivotal way to support those who are struggling or experiencing distress.

This year’s theme is “Trust the signs, trust your Gut and ask R U OK?”. This theme encourages others to look out for signs, actions and changes that may indicate possible distress. More importantly, observe, connect and lend an ear to those who may be struggling.

In the context of Western Sydney, mental health distress has been a pressing concern, with statistics highlighting this region to have disproportionately higher rates of mental health distress in comparison to the wider Sydney area. In the Communities of Change report, we have found that there is a higher level of suicidality and self-harm in Western Sydney. This meaning, we must divert our attention to the main contributors of mental health distress, strengthen our services and engage in these vital conservations surrounding mental health – especially within our community of Western Sydney.

At Western Sydney Community Forum we firmly support and believe in engaging in these vital conversations surrounding mental health, encouraging discussion to be elicited surrounding mental health and suicide prevention. More so, we support all year-round support for those who are experiencing mental health distress, especially through the strengthening of our community and the services that are delivered.

We hope today you get involved and participate in these crucial conversations surrounding mental health this year and beyond. As this year’s slogan states, “Trust the signs, Trust your gut and ask R U OK?”

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