R U OK? Day calls on Aussies to reconnect

Today is R U OK? Day and that means it's time make the call, send the text, or meet for that overdue coffee.

New research from the suicide prevention charity tells a worrying story; one third of us have unintentionally lost contact with four or more family members or friends and 24 per cent of us have stopped talking with four to eight loved ones.

Why is R U OK? Day so important?

Reaching out to loved ones allows you to check up, reconnect and give somebody a reason to smile.

R U OK? Campaign Director Rebecca Lewis says that today's the day to make a promise to get back in contact.

"As a community and as individuals, we're stronger together and it's important that we make more time for the people we care about," Rebecca said.

"Use today as an opportunity to start a conversation with someone you were once close to, as well as reach out to anyone you're worried about.

Then, make a commitment to be there for one another throughout the year."

Rebecca says the difference between R U OK? Day and other awareness raising campaigns is that this day calls to those available to help, rather than appealing to those who need help.

"What a lot of people don't necessarily understand is we're about targeting the strong and well, who live alongside the person that might be struggling.

"Our job is really to say, you've got what it takes to be there for a mate and help them open up and express what they're going through.

"We all go through rough patches and we can all help each other pull through."

According to the organisation the campaign is growing in popularity each year, although getting people actively participating is still a challenge.

"We do a massive post-campaign evaluation and it's a national survey.

"We are tracing peoples attitudes around positive talking behaviour and we are showing some improvements around that. 

"We still have a big challenge around bridging the awareness and participation gap, getting people to actively engage in the campaign rather than just a hashtag or mentioning it."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull echoes these thoughts, calling for regular conversations with family and friends.

"The more we talk, the more people are encouraged to seek help," Prime Minister Turnbull said.

"Checking in with each other is something we can all do to help those around us.

"So if you think someone you know might need help, ask the question: 'Are you ok?'"

R U OK? Conversation Expert Professor Nick Glozier says we've all got what it takes to be there for one another, and tells us it's all about listening and not judging what someone wants to share.

"Once you start a conversation and a mate opens up, don't rush in or leap to conclusions," Nick said.

"It's important that you listen to what they have to say and guide the conversation with more open questions.

"Don't try and fix their problems - or provide the answers - but help them to identify what they can do to better manage the load."

For support at any time of day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

For more info, visit ruok.org.au.

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