September 14, 2023

We’re here to hear: R U OK? Day

On R U OK? Day, and every day, Northern Health is committed to supporting the psychological health and wellbeing of all our staff.

Today is R U OK? Day, a national day of action to remind everyone that every day is the day to ask ‘R U OK?’ and to start a meaningful conversations whenever they spot the signs that someone might be struggling.

The theme of ‘I’m here to hear’ encourages us all to not only ask ‘R U OK?’ but to genuinely listen and to make sure you are giving your mate, colleague, family member or loved one the right environment to open up when times may get tough.

Michelle Fenwick, Executive Director, People and Culture, expressed the importance of being here to hear.

“This year, R U OK? Day is a really special day, especially given the last three to four years we have had, not just here at Northern Health, but across the country, and the world,” she said.

“We are actually here to hear for this R U OK? Day. We are not just going to say the words, we are actually going to hear the response.”

“So take the time to ask the question and sit down with either family, colleagues and alike, to really be here to hear the response.”

Casey O’Brien, Senior Psychologist, People and Culture, said supportive conversations were important in maintaining the wellbeing of the people around us.

“Remember that there are many ways we can support each other. You don’t need to have counselling skills or training to have a powerful impact on someone’s day,” she said.

“Kindness and support can come from a corridor check-in, sitting in silence together after a difficult event, or checking in on a colleague who has been having a hard time at home.”

Here at Northern Health, multiple support systems, programs and initiatives are in place to support our staff and community.

The Northern Health Peer Support Program was established in July 2022. The program is celebrating its first successful year of staff supporting staff with brief, practical and emotional support.

Trained and compassionate Northern Health peer supporters work alongside staff in need of a chat, guidance or support. Our peer supporters have assisted staff with a range of concerns including ongoing stress, career and family concerns and work-life balance.

Staff can also access the Northern Health Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – a professional, counselling service that offers free and confidential, short-term support for a variety of work-related and personal concerns that may be affecting staff at work or home. The EAP provides access to qualified professionals, including psychologists, social workers and management coaches.

“The Peer Support Program is driven by our values of safe, kind and together,” Casey said.

“Along with our EAP Program, the Peer Support Program provides another avenue of confidential support for staff with work or personal concerns, and connection to resources. Our peer supporters come from diverse backgrounds, are easy to access, and understand what it is like to work at Northern Health. They are here to hear when you need them.”

Beyond the Peer Support Program and EAP, there are many staff who are like-minded and passionate about mental health. This year, we had over 100 staff, including Executives and senior leaders, participate in Mental Health First Aid training.

This accreditation provides staff with more confidence in creating those supportive R U OK? conversations, and providing safe pathways for intervention. These skills also help us to support our friends and family members who are going through difficult times or crises – these are lifelong skills that also help us reflect on our own wellbeing.

If today is a difficult day for you, or you are needing support, we encourage you to reach out to one of our Northern Health Peer Supporters or Northern Health’s free Employee Assistance Program.

To find out more about R U OK? Day and resources available to staff, please visit the Intranet. Click here to watch Northern Health staff talk about the importance of R U OK? Day and being here to hear.

Remember, every day is the day ask, ‘are you OK?’.

Featured image: Kelly Pinto, Spiritual Carer, Natalia Dewiyani, Spiritual Care Coordinator, Graham Wilson, OHS Director, Casey O’Brien, Senior Psychologist, People and Culture, Alysha Hooper, People Experience Business Partner, People & Culture and Ravinder Kaur, AGA Student, People and Culture.