R U OK? With this simple question, anyone can act as a superhero to a friend in need.

STCH Ministries Family Counseling joined Golder Associates in creating awareness that it is okay not to be okay. Family Counseling Regional Director Lorraine Turner presented during a suicide prevention event hosted by the global environmental consulting company.

Every day there are tragic stories about the toll mental health issues take on people’s lives. R U OK Day began in Australia in 2011 after Gavin Larkin’s father committed suicide. He had wondered whether this simple question could have made a difference and saved his father’s life. The suicide awareness and prevention campaign, now a recognized nationwide event in Australia, gained attention around the world through global companies such as Golder Associates.

Many times, individuals put their best face forward on social media and in face-to-face interactions because no one wants to burden others with personal issues. Lorraine firmly believes if everyone spoke openly with each other, there would not be the same level of mental illness such as depression and anxiety in our society. Most of us walk around acting like things are fine when they may not be. She insists it is important to express day to day frustrations, not just the big things because it’s the little things that add up to the big things.

Lorraine shared with the group that she dislikes the polite greeting, “How are you?” Too many people answer it with “fine” when they are not. Her presentation included reasons why someone might not be okay: stress, burn out, grief and depression all contribute to emotional well-being. However, everyday issues such as family disagreements, traffic incidents and a lack of sleep can also affect one’s overall health.

After defining the concerns, Lorraine gave practical tips on how to help a friend or coworker who is struggling. Concentrating on basic steps anyone can take to make a difference in another’s life, she spoke of the importance of active listening to another person’s responses, repeating back to them what you heard to show understanding, validating their emotions and asking clarifying questions. What bothered you about the conversation? When was the last time you did not feel so heavy? What do you like to do for fun and when was the last time you did it? Lorraine instructed the attendees to ask these questions to move the conversation forward and explore possible solutions together.

Lorraine taught self-awareness which enables individuals to recognize negative patterns. Participants learned how to self-evaluate stress levels by acknowledging what fills them up emotionally and drains them physically.

Greg Logan, a geologist at Golder Associates, used balloons to show how someone can become overwhelmed when they have too many things going on in their life. Each balloon represented a different issue or responsibility. Greg handed a colleague one balloon at a time and asked him to hold on to them the best he could. This revealed how challenging life can be when one has too much going on. This can lead to stress, feeling overwhelmed or even depressed. Asking “R U Ok?” allows a person to ask for help and lets them know someone cares for them. After asking “R U OK,” Greg began to take the balloons back and delegate them to others. This illustrated everyone can work together to help relieve the stress of others.

Writing pens, bracelets and posters around the office remind Golder Associate employees two things: ask each other if they are ok and to be open to sharing their burdens with others. Statistically, there is a global rise in depression, anxiety and both suicide attempts as well as suicide completions. Asking “R U Ok?” can make the world of difference for someone!

STCH Ministries Family Counseling serves as a preventative ministry as well as a source of direction and hope in times of crisis. Counselors provide training, seminars, and workshops enabling churches, organizations and community groups to be a resource to those in need. For more information on counseling or workshops: https://www.STCHM.org/family-counseling/