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4 tips for asking R U OK? at work | Doshii Blog

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This Thursday, September the 8th is RUOK Day – a national day of action where Aussies are reminded that looking out for the mental health of those around us is an important part of being a great colleague, friend and ally.

This Thursday, September the 8th is R U OK? Day – a national day of action where Australians around the country are reminded that looking out for signs of mental illness in those around us is an important part of being a great colleague, friend and ally.

As a proud supporter of the Australian hospitality industry, promoting good mental health for people with anxiety and people with depression is a cause close to our hearts at Doshii. We firmly believe in work health and safety and believe that everyone has the right to feel happy and healthy in their workplace – both physically and mentally..

We spoke to Rachel Clements, Co-Founder and Director of Psychological Services at the Centre for Corporate Health about what we can all do help ensure those around us are mentally healthy and thriving at work, and how we can all learn to have the difficult conversations to show how much we care about our friends and colleagues.

DOSHII (D): Is there a reason that hospitality work is particularly prone to high incidents of mental health crises?

RACHEL CLEMENTS (RC): One in three hospitality employees will experience a mental health issue within a 12 month period, so it’s quite high. It’s also a casualised work-force; a large amount of the population is casual.

Look at how they’ve been impacted in the last couple years – and even prior to the pandemic, there’s often work around in the summer months when things are busy, but that means that during the winter months there’s not as much around. I think around 60-70% of the hospitality population in Australia is made up of a casual workforce.

One in three hospo employees will experience a mental health issue within a 12 month period. – Rachel Clements, Co-Founder and Director of Psychological Services at the Centre for Corporate Health

Sometimes historically as well, the culture has been a bit, you know, “toughen up”, or “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” Traditionally that type of culture has been more prevalent, whereas we know that cultures that foster positive mental health outcomes are more of the R U OK?-type culture.

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D: What is something someone in hospitality can do today if they are concerned about a colleague or employee having a potential mental health crisis?
1. Have the courage to ask

RC: The first thing is, have the courage and the confidence to lean into the conversation. You absolutely do not have to be an expert. All you need is the courage and confidence to ask. You do need time, so don’t do it in between tasks, make sure you’re giving someone the gift of your time.

You absolutely do not have to be an expert. All you need is the courage and the confidence to ask. – Rachel Clements, Co-Founder and Director of Psychological Services at the Centre for Corporate Health

2. Listen without judgement

The second step is just listening without judgement. You don’t have to have the answers, to troubleshoot, to problem solve, because you most likely can’t anyway. All that person wants is to be heard.

3. Give gentle guidance to the next step – reaching out for help

Third stage, if you think it would be useful, gently guide that person to some action and next steps. It might be, “why don’t we jump on the internet now, search up somewhere where you can go and have a chat with somebody?” Or maybe, “it might be useful to have a chat with your GP. I’m happy to go along with you, if that’ll help you feel better.”

Maybe it’s, “I know we have a counselling service in our organisation, I’m happy to jump on a call right now with you, if you like.” You know, being an active connector. As a peer, you’re very powerful to get that person to the next step.

4. Check back in and follow up with care and empathy

The final step is to check back in. Follow up. Always keep that person on your radar until you feel as if they’re back on track, and they’re back into their life again.

That’s the bit that people miss out on, but that’s what makes the difference.

A little text message – “you’ve been on my mind, I’ve been thinking about you, just wanted to see how you’re doing,” or “haven’t heard from you in a while, did you want to catch up for a coffee?” You’re making that extra effort to be proactive and to initiate the check-in. You can’t wait for the person who’s not doing so well to be proactive – you’ve got to do it for them.

D: Thank you so much for your time Rachel, do you have any closing thoughts to leave us with on maintaining a healthy workplace?

Work can be a wonderful source of positive wellbeing. But it can also be where people are bringing their whole selves to work – so it has a massive impact on people. In a positive way, but also sometimes in a negative way.

I think that’s the biggest shift I’ve seen. R U OK? is now much more ingrained in the Australian psyche, everyone knows about it, organisations celebrate it every year.

The challenge is, how do you just make R U OK? Day the 8th of September, but how do you make it every day? That’s the challenge.

To get your office involved in R U OK? Day, visit their website at www.ruok.org.au.

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