RACS celebrates R U OK?Day on 10 September 2020.  It’s a day of action when we are reminded that every day is the day to ask, “Are you OK?” if someone you know is struggling with life’s ups and downs.

Looking after ourselves and our colleagues is essential for our health and wellbeing.  If you feel like something’s not quite the same with someone you know, trust your instincts and take the time to ask them “Are you OK?”.

This year’s theme is 'There’s more to say after R U OK? '. This reminds us that when we reach out and show concerns for the people around us, we need to make time to listen, encourage action and be willing to check back in at a later time to follow up.Helping a colleague can be as simple as just having an open and honest conversation. Here are some tips to navigate your conversation:

Be prepared

You will need to be in a good head space for a meaningful conversation and ensure you start the conversation at a time and place that’s appropriate for both of you. 

How to start the conversation

Start by mentioning the specific things you have noticed in your colleague that has concerned you. For example, ‘You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?’

Listen without judgement

Take the time to actively listen to what your colleague is saying and resist the temptation to interrupt or rush the conversation. If they do open up, encourage them to talk more by asking questions like ‘How are you feeling about that?’ or ‘How long have you felt that way?’.

Encourage action

In addition to encouraging your colleague to engage in self-care activities and to have a GP, it’s important to emphasise the value of accessing support services early on. There are a range of confidential and free professional services available to RACS Trainees, Specialist International Graduates and Fellows including the RACS Support Program, the Doctors Health Network throughout Australia and New Zealand and Drs4Drs.

Check in

After your initial conversation, stay in touch and check in on your colleague.  The additional support can really make a difference.

R U OK?Day for more resources including videos and conversation starters or the RACS Surgeons’ Wellbeing webpage.

For urgent support contact Beyond Blue (AU) on 1300 22 36 46, Lifeline (AU) 13 11 14 or Lifeline (NZ) 0800 54 33 54, 24 hours a day.