Highland FM’s station manager Adam Stokeld recently penned an article for Southern Highland News for R U OK? Day on Thursday, 9th of September 2021. 


2021 has become a challenging year and being locked down due to COVID-19 restrictions is having a rollercoaster effect on all of us, in different ways.

There are those who are using the time at home to catch up on the myriad of jobs that would have never otherwise been attempted. Home cooking has reached a whole new stratosphere, messy cupboards are being reorganised and gardens are revelling in the newly found attention.

Then there’s the guilt free pleasure of simply doing nothing meaningful, relaxing….an all embracement of the imposed “me” time. You will have guessed that this group have reported they are actually enjoying the lockdown experience, so far.

For others, there’s the anxiety and the fear of the impacts of COVID-19.

From the loss of income, losing contact with friends and family, loss of lifestyle choices, the feeling of isolation and loneliness…to the virus itself.

Those already vulnerable to depression, can spiral to catastrophic levels and even to the taking of their own lives. This year, suicide numbers have reached alarming levels with suicides predicted to increase by 25 per cent each year for the next five years, a far bigger death toll than COVID-19, all silent deaths. Life has been impacted by uncertainty, disruption and disappearing optimism pushing the chronic mental health situation into emergency levels.

R U OK suicide prevention organisation is committed to providing information and assistance to help our most vulnerable. The message from the organisation is:

“We understand that some of us are more vulnerable than others, but we are all capable of noticing the signs of sadness, depression or anxiety in those who are near to us. It could be simply a feeling that they aren’t behaving as they normally would, out of sorts, agitated or withdrawn. By doing something we can make a difference and even save a life. Trust your gut instinct and act on it. You don’t need to be an expert to reach out – just a good friend and a great listener.

“By starting a conversation and commenting on the changes you’ve noticed, you could help that special person to open up. If they say they are not ok, you can follow the recommended R U OK conversation steps to show them they’re supported and can help them find strategies to better manage the load. If they are ok, that person will know you’re someone who cares enough to ask.”

Use these four steps and have a conversation that could change a life:

1. Ask R U OK?

2. Listen

3. Encourage action

4. Check in

If you’re not in the right headspace or you don’t think you’re the right person to have the conversation, try to think of someone else in their support network who could talk with them.

Thursday, September 9 is R U OK? Day, our national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that every day is the day to ask, “are you okay?” and support those struggling with life’s ups and downs. To learn more go to www.ruok.org.au

Time is one of the most valuable gifts we can share with the people that we care about.

Highland FM 107.1 is joining with Southern Highland News and Community Links Wellbeing Reframe to promote that everyday is a good day to ask, “are you okay?”

If this article raises any issues for you or anyone else, please contact:

Lifeline on 13 11 14

Beyond Blue Support Service on 1300 22 4636

Community Links Wellbeing Reframe on 0455 104 104 or go to www.communitylinks.org.au

The article was published in Southern Highlands News on September 7th 2021 and can be viewed here.