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. Contributed

Three words can change lives

ONE day a year we are encouraged to ask someone "R U OK?”

This day aims to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with people around them and support anyone struggling with life. Something as simple as a smile, a friendly face and a conversation has the power to change and ultimately save a life.

Statistics show we all know someone who is struggling. Depression, anxiety and mental illness are all part of our vocabulary. Never before have we been more educated for the signs to look out for, and while RUOK? is creating awareness around the fact that we do need to check in with each other, listen to each other and help each other when we can, it really is a concept that we need to practise on a daily basis.

While this may all sound like great advice and so simple to do, the truth is that it's not as easy as it seems. Many generations have been brought up believing showing your feelings is a weakness.

I was bought up a great believer in sweeping things under the rug. The old "she'll be right mate” mantra flows strongly through my veins. There is nothing wrong with this attitude but it hasn't always served me well.

Sometimes, when the going gets tough, you really need to peel back the layers and understand that it's not always going to be right, that talking to someone is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of ultimate strength.

Admitting you are not okay is the first step in truly understanding our complicated minds.

By having a national day to remind us how we should ask someone if they are okay, how we should react, respond and help, maybe people battling their own demons will turn around and answer the question truthfully when they are having problems coping.

Getting positive mental health issues into wider community discussion is not an easy thing to do and I am all for whatever works. If it is as simple, or as difficult, as three simple words to start a conversation, then I ask RUOK?

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