06 September 2022
R U OK? Day, which will be held on 8th September, is a day dedicated to inspiring and empowering everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and start a conversation with someone who may be struggling with life.
This year’s theme - “Ask R U OK?” – no qualifications needed” is a reminder that people already have what it takes to support those around them.
Hemoata (Hems) Purukamu, Production Services Supervisor for the Finucane Island A/C team, said she has had many people support her who weren’t a qualified health professional, including friends, family and work colleagues.
“I suffered from post-natal depression in 2015 with my first daughter Anthea and have family members who struggle with mental health issues, so I know first-hand that when you don’t feel right in your mind and don’t get the support it can impact on the decisions and actions you take.”
Hems’ experience inspired her to get involved with, and now lead, the Port & Rail Peer Support Program – an initiative involving a group of volunteers within BHP who are training in methods to support work colleagues through times of high stress or change. The purpose of the program is to create a culture of care and raise awareness around mental health.
“While the work of health professionals is vital, and their value cannot be underestimated, it is important to understand that you don’t need to be an expert to have an R U OK? conversation with someone in your life who might be struggling. Listening and giving someone your time might be just what they need to help them through a difficult period.
“Change in behaviour is a sign I often see when someone is not quite themselves. I have recently provided support to someone who was feeling overwhelmed and struggling with the pressures of work. The key is to choose a time and place where the person will feel comfortable to talk, demonstrating you are coming from a place of genuine care, and then simply asking them if they are ok.”
“By having regular, meaningful conversations, we can help the people we care about feel supported before they are in crisis and, if that conversation does get too big for us, we can guide them to seek professional help.”