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Are they really OK? Ask them today

Today is R U OK?Day, a day that reminds us to check in with those around us and meaningfully connect, listen, and provide support if needed. This year’s message is ‘are they really OK?’, encouraging all Australians to stop and think about how those around us are truly coping and reminding us to be honest with others about how we are doing.

The small business landscape has been greatly impacted over the past 18 months, affecting business owners, their families, and their employees. If you are a small business owner, check in with your employees today, or if you know a small business owner or their family or employee, be sure to ask them if they are OK. Reaching out and supporting one another helps normalise mental ill-health and makes people more comfortable to seek help when they need it.

How to go about asking

Approaching a conversation about mental health can be intimidating, especially if you feel you don’t know what to say. To help with this, R U OK? have created some simple steps to help guide your conversation.

  1. Make sure you are ready to ask: ensure you are in a good headspace, understand you cannot fix someone’s problems, and make sure you have chosen the right time and place to ask.
  2. Ask: be friendly, relaxed, and concerned in your approach, ease into the conversation, and mention any specific concerns you have about them.
  3. Listen with an open mind: don’t rush or interrupt the conversation, take what they say seriously, remain judgement free, and acknowledge their experiences.
  4. Encourage action: help them come up with some coping strategies, and offer your help where possible. If they have been feeling down for over two weeks, encourage them to seek professional support.
  5. Check-in: remember to follow up a couple of weeks after your conversation to check whether anything has improved for them.

Where to get more information

The R U OK? website has a lot more information and resources to help you out. You can take a look at

Ahead for Business also has lots of resources that might be helpful in understanding mental what mental health is, having conversations about mental health, and creating a mentally healthy and supportive work environment for you and your staff.

Support for yourself

If you are working in a small business and going through a hard time, talk to someone you trust and let them know you aren’t OK. If you’re not comfortable doing so, there are a range of support services available 24/7, which you can call for confidential and anonymous support to talk through what is happening for you.

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