This year’s RU OK? Day was held on September 12 with more than 90 per cent of the employees at LINX Cargo Care Group sites around Australia participating in the day.
The idea of the day was designed to get conversations started with those around us who may be struggling, and to simply ask the question, “Are you okay?”
The R U OK? organisation believes “a conversation could change a life” and has set out to “inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and start a conversation with anyone who may be struggling with life”.
“You don’t need to be an expert to reach out – just a good friend and a great listener,” the organisation says.
This year the focus is to encourage everyone to ‘Trust the Signs, Trust your Gut and ask R U OK?’
More than 3000 Australians commit suicide each year which is about eight people a day. For every death by suicide, it is estimated that as many as 30 people attempt to end their life. That is approximately 65,300 suicide attempts each year.
Causes of depression can vary from person to person. For some, stressful life events such as the loss of a relationship or job, long-term unemployment, physical health issues, family problems or the death of a loved one might trigger depression. For others, there is no obvious cause.
LINX Cargo Care Group, a diversified logistics infrastructure and solutions provider, comprises LINX, Autocare Services, C3, Pedersen Group and GeelongPort. Together, the five companies employ more than 4000 employees at more than 70 sites across Australia and New Zealand.
Autocare Services has a fleet of 300 trucks and moves more than 50 per cent of the vehicles imported into Australia from the port of entry to dealerships.
R U OK? is one of the charities the group has chosen to support through its LINX CCG Foundation because it is especially relevant to the transport industry.
A survey in the transport industry funded by Australian Rotary Health showed:
- Drivers have a seven per cent higher chance of developing depression than other Australians.
- Drivers experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety are 27 per cent more likely to abuse substances.
- Drivers with moderate depression are twice as likely to have an accident while driving.
- Drivers with severe depression are six times more likely to have an accident.
A 2014 PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report on mental health in the workplace showed that within a 12-month period in the transport, postal and warehousing industry:
- 23 per cent of workers have a mental health condition.
- Six per cent of workers have a substance abuse condition.
- 20.4 per cent of workers have an anxiety condition.
- 7.2 per cent of workers have a condition affecting their mood, such as depression.
Other confronting statistics include:
- 1 in 5 Australians are likely to experience a mental health condition in a 12-month period.
- Over a lifetime almost 1 in 2 (45 per cent) of Australians are likely to experience a mental health condition (on the measure that a mental health condition/problem is not necessarily a diagnosable mental illness).
- 54 per cent of people with a mental illness do not access any treatment.
Statistics for men:
- Suicide is the leading cause of death in Australian men aged 15-44.
- 6:8 suicides per day are men.
- 1:8 men will experience depression.
- 1:5 will experience anxiety.
- Men are more than twice as likely to experience a substance use disorder than women (seven per cent compared with 3.3 per cent).
Statistics for women:
- 1:6 will experience depression.
- 1:3 will experience anxiety.
Symptoms can include:
- Not wanting to go out or take part in activities that were previously enjoyable.
- Difficulties in concentrating.
- Feeling overwhelmed, guilty or frustrated.
- Feeling sick, tired or run down all the time.
Activities organised across the LINX Cargo Care Group throughout Australia included BBQs, outdoor activities, ‘Toolbox Talks’ throughout the day dedicated to the importance of R U OK?, as well as inspiring anecdotal stories shared by those who have experienced depression.
Employees are encouraged to engage in communication and talk to each other.
There is a workplace guide that includes: How do I know if someone needs support, simple steps to talk to a staff member who is not OK, how to manage emotional reactions in a conversation and useful contacts for a staff member who is not OK.
The company says that employees are encouraged to take up R U OK? philosophy every day.
“While R U OK? Day is a great national initiative to ask colleagues ‘are you ok?’, this can be carried out not just today but every day and can make a real difference to staff and colleagues who are going through a tough time,” LINX Cargo Care Group CEO Anthony Jones said.
By John Mellor