A timely reminder to ask R U OK?
COVID-19 has presented multiple challenges to Australia’s collective mental health with many people experiencing stress associated with health, finances and physical isolation over the past 6 months.
This means 2020’s R U OK? Day on Thursday 10 September may be the most important one on record.
Research suggests there are many common issues that can be heightened during disease outbreaks, including: panic, depression, anger, confusion and uncertainty, with up to a third of people experiencing high levels of worry and anxiety. Any mental health issue people might be experiencing can be amplified while struggles with addiction or family violence could get worse. Social isolation can also increase feelings of loneliness, grief and self-doubt.
Bupa’s Senior Mental Health & Wellbeing Advisor, Chanel Nesci says there has never been a more important time to connect with people and provide support to those who might be struggling.
5 helpful tips for asking R U OK?
- Prepare yourself to ask the question. Make sure you’re in a good headspace, have time to listen and be prepared that the person you are speaking to may not be okay.
- Have the conversation in a place that’s private and informal where you can listen without judgment. Give the person time to think and take what they say seriously.
- In a situation where you find a person isn’t okay, the next best step is to encourage action. Asking questions like, “What would be a good first step we can take?” or “How can I help you with this?” can prompt someone to identify what they may be needing.
- If someone is needing more urgent support or if they mention that they are thinking about taking their own life, link them to urgent medical support or call services such as Lifeline. Where life is in immediate danger, contact 000.
- Remember to check in on the person regularly, to see if they have accessed any support or found ways to better manage their situation.
- If you feel worried or concerned about people around you, make sure that you seek support for yourself, as this may have an impact on you too.
COVID-19 has dramatically changed social environments, particularly in Victoria where most people have been largely confined to their homes during stage 4 restrictions.
“If you can’t connect with someone in person, take the time to pick up the phone or set up a video chat to ask R U OK? It could be the most important conversation you have all year.
“It’s also vital that anyone who is struggling with their mental health consults a GP or qualified health professional who can provide support and treatment options. Don’t wait for the pandemic to pass, to access support for your mental health,” Chanel said.
What Bupa is doing to support the mental health of its customers
The Bupa Health Foundation recently donated more than $2 million in funding to projects supporting the mental health of young Australians. This has helped grow the My Circle digital platform, where young people can connect anonymously with their peers for online group counselling, and expand the Kids Helpline@School program to reach more primary schools across Australia.
Bupa has also provided male customers in Victoria free access to an online wellbeing hub, in partnership with Australian mental health solution provider Mindstar and digital innovator Go1, to assist them in the face of the growing mental health challenges triggered by the social and financial impacts of the state’s Stage 4 restrictions.
Psychology has been identified as the second most common telehealth claim for Bupa since it began funding services delivered over the telephone on March 25. As physical distancing restrictions eased across Australia in May, Bupa continues to fund both telehealth and face to face psychological services.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our aged care residents haven’t been able to see their loved ones as often as they would like. Finding new ways to maintain virtual connections has been important in looking after our residents’ mental wellbeing during this time. We’ve introduced a number of new ways to keep in touch including through video calls on new iPads in each home, a dedicated aged care app, private Facebook groups and by asking local communities to send in letters and drawings as part of our Visits By Mail initiative.
Media reference number: 20/095
 Blackdoginstitute.org.au. 2020. Mental Health Ramifications Of COVID-19: The Australian Context. [online] Available at: [Accessed 28 July 2020]