Con­nect mean­ing­fully

Fight men­tal ill­ness by tak­ing the time to re­con­nect with friends

Life & Style Weekend - - MIND - with Rowena Hardy Rowena Hardy is a fa­cil­i­ta­tor, per­for­mance coach and part­ner of Minds Aligned: www.mind­saligned.com.au.

ABOUT 2100 Aus­tralians take their life each year and for each per­son who does there are 30 who at­tempt to. Ac­cord­ing to the Black Dog In­sti­tute, one in five Aus­tralians aged 16–85 ex­pe­ri­ence men­tal ill­ness, in­clud­ing those listed above, yet 65% of those do not seek treat­ment.

Why is that we won­der? Stigma? Fear of judg­ment? Dis­miss­ing it as unim­por­tant?

It’s prob­a­bly dif­fer­ent for each per­son and we can’t know for sure, but clearly some­thing has to change.

Thurs­day was R U Ok Day – a na­tional sui­cide pre­ven­tion ini­tia­tive with the mis­sion to in­spire and em­power ev­ery­one to mean­ing­fully con­nect with peo­ple around them and sup­port any­one strug­gling with life.

Life can be a strug­gle at times for all sorts of rea­sons; per­haps due to a ma­jor event or the re­sult of a series of smaller set­backs that have just worn us down over time and we end up be­ing pushed be­yond re­silience which puts our men­tal health and emo­tional well-be­ing at risk.

Chronic men­tal stress leads to de­pres­sion (one in seven peo­ple), anx­i­ety and sub­stance abuse and may re­sult in sui­cide.

For me, the most im­por­tant part of R U Ok’s mis­sion is the part about ‘mean­ing­fully con­nect’.

A lot of us, par­tic­u­larly ado­les­cents, may feel we are con­nect­ing through so­cial me­dia, yet it’s hardly mean­ing­ful.

Even when we have a con­ver­sa­tion, whether it’s face to face or over the phone, we aren’t nec­es­sar­ily con­nect­ing, let alone mean­ing­fully.

The ten­dency is for the brain to lose fo­cus ev­ery 20 sec­onds or so to al­low it to process what’s be­ing said which can lead to dis­trac­tion and dis­con­nec­tion and the other per­son will no­tice it even if it’s only mo­men­tary.

Given that it’s likely we all know or love one of those ‘one in five’ (or per­haps you are that one), what can we do dif­fer­ently?

A cou­ple of sug­ges­tions. Pay at­ten­tion; if you no­tice a

The most im­por­tant part of R U Ok’s mis­sion is the part about ‘mean­ing­fully con­nect.

sig­nif­i­cant change in some­one’s be­hav­iour, gen­tly ask what’s hap­pen­ing for them.

Slow down; although a quick “R U Ok?” can help, you may just get a ‘fine’ or ‘yeah, all good’ re­sponse.

Some­times it’s im­por­tant to make time for a longer, more mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tion and, when you do, be sure you are re­ally lis­ten­ing and con­nect­ing. Are they re­ally Ok? Dare to dig a lit­tle deeper and of­fer what­ever sup­port you can.

PHOTO:THINKSTOCK

Take the time to ask those around you ‘R U Ok?’ and make time for more mean­ing­ful con­ver­sa­tions.

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