A Guide for Employers on “R U OK? Day”
- September 14, 2023
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Written by Sanjana Malewar, Trainee Solicitor on 14 September 2023
Australians are encouraged to check in on their friends, families and coworkers today, in observance of “R U OK? Day” across the country. It is not only important to check up on those who you know are struggling, but to also learn how to notice the signs of mental health struggle and offer your support.
The below resource from the R U OK? organisation, is a practical guide for workplaces on how to approach and respond to this question.
Employers have a legal responsibility to ensure the mental and physical wellbeing of their employees, under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. Employers can promote a healthy and safe working environment by:
- Ensuring employees are taking regular breaks;
- Encouraging employees to take advantage of stress-management and wellness webinars, and participate in yoga or meditation classes;
- Considering organising employee wellness programs and team-building activities such as team lunches or creative art sessions;
- Encouraging employees to engage in daily exercise, pursue hobbies and to take time to spend with family and friends after work.
However, what should an employer do if an employee tells them they are not ok? Employers need to ensure to listen attentively and ask the employee what they can do to offer their support. Most employers are not mental health professionals, so it is important they refer any team members who require support to local Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), or suggest they seek help from their GP or a mental health professional if required. Employers can also offer their support by suggesting these employees take personal leave and consider flexible working arrangements where appropriate.
If you or anyone you know needs help, contact any of the helplines below:
Lifeline (24/7): 13 11 14 – lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service (24/7): 1300 659 467 – suicidecallbackservice.org.au
Beyond Blue (24/7): 1300 224 636 – beyondblue.org.au
SANE Australia: 1800 18 SANE (7263) – sane.org