Last year’s R U O K? day – a national suicide prevention action day – was deemed a big success. Following are some tips I came across after reading about ‘Key Staff Driven To Disorder’ and Graeme Cowan’s personal five year battle against depression.
Graeme worked in key executive positions until he was diagnosed with depression in 2000. On the basis of his experiences he has developed a new perspective on the way companies should deal with this ‘iceberg problem’.
Graeme says he has had five major depressive episodes in his life which he had surrounded by secrecy. He didn’t sleep well and ‘put on a mask at work’ – all very tiring. He says:
“When it finally came to the point where it became obvious I couldn’t continue at work, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone because it had been an ongoing thing for the previous two or three years. I’d take time off to recuperate, go back to work for six months, then I’d be off again…
For me my recovery wasn’t an overnight turnaround..in essence it was through physical activity, having contact with family and friends and also looking at work that I found fulfilling.”
NB ‘PRESENTEEISM’ is a new term that refers to stressed people not coping at work. It’s estimated this could cost business as much as $14 billion pa.
Fortunately Graeme worked for a company who handled his situation very well. He has written two books and is now a public speaker/consultant on the problem:
Gavin Larkin, founder of R U O K? day says:
With the R U O K? Campaign – September 15, 2011 – the idea is to take the initiative. Put the invitation out there and say something like:
“I’ve got time to talk”.
Maintain eye contact and sit in a relaxed position – positive body language will help you both feel more comfortable.
Often just spending time with the person lets them know you care and can help you understand what they’re going through.
1. Use open-ended questions
eg ‘So tell me about…?’, which require more than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer. The following questions could help start a conversation:
1. ‘You know, I’ve noticed that you’ve seemed really down/worried/stressed for a long time now. Is there anyone you’ve been able to talk to about it?’
2. ‘Lots of people go through this sort of thing. Getting help will make it easier’
3. ‘I hate to see you struggling on your own. There are people that can help. Have you thought of visiting your doctor?’
2. Practice your listening skills
Listen to what a person is saying, be open minded and non-judgemental – sometimes, when someone wants to talk, they’re not always seeking advice, but they just need to talk about their concerns
3. Be patient – let the person take their time
Avoid telling someone what to do: it is important to listen and try to help the other person work out what is best for them
4. Be encouraging
Encourage physical health. Maintaining regular exercise, a nutritious diet and getting regular sleep helps people to cope in tough times
Encourage the person to seek professional help from their family doctor, a support service or counsellor, or a mental health worker
Encourage self-care. Sometimes people need to be encouraged to do more to look after their own needs during a difficult time
5. Be helpful – What NOT to do when trying to help someone. It is unhelpful to:
1. Pressure them to ‘snap out of it’, ‘get their act together’ or ‘cheer up’
2. Stay away or avoid them
3. Tell them they just need to stay busy or get out more
4. Suggest alcohol or drugs
5. Assume the problem will just go away
For More Info you can contact:
Gavin Larkin says
“In the time it takes to have your coffee, you can start a conversation that could change a life. On R U OK?Day, who will you ask?”
R U O K? Day this year is Thursday 15 September.