• R U OK (R U OK: Public Domain)Source: R U OK: Public Domain
Thousands of people around the country are showing their support for the mental health of their friends, family and colleagues by asking each other 'are you okay?' as part of the international campaign, R U OK? Day on Thursday.
Andrea Booth

10 Sep 2015 - 3:16 PM  UPDATED 10 Sep 2015 - 7:55 PM

R U OK? Day was commemorated by thousands nationwide on Thursday in an effort to encourage Australians to take care of individuals who may be going through a hard time.


The international campaign aims to create a world that is essentially free from suicide, where everyone is connected.


Jeremy Donovan, a Kuku Yalanji man from far north Queensland and CEO of Generation One, believes that every single Australian can play their part in the campaign and provide support to someone in need.


"Just by asking how are they, 'are they OK', you can change the course of someone's life," Mr Donovan said in an R U OK? YouTube video.


"You can save someone’s life, and there is no shame in asking for help."



The 2015 theme of the annual R U OK? Day, ‘thanks for asking', was created to encourage individuals to show their gratitude to people who are taking care of people living with mental health issues.


Mr Donovan said he expressed gratitude for the concern his brother showed to him after he relocated to Sydney and got caught in the grind of constant travel for his career.

"You can save someone's life, and there is no shame in asking for help."

"It was wearing on me," he said. "I forgot how to survive. That phone call that day from my brother was just, he saw a photograph of me on social media and he just said that I looked burnt out."

He said that the phone call was a great leveler “because I was just working and working and working, and I was neglecting my emotions. That phone call halted everything in that one moment”.


R U OK? campaign director, Rebecca Lewis, said that the higher rate of mental health issues in Indigenous Australia was “heartbreaking”.


R U OK? Day
Mental illness affects one in five Australians in any one year but almost half of those experiencing mental health issues don’t seek professional treatment. If you notice someone going through a difficult time, something as simple as asking “are you OK?” can help. [To hear the English language story click on the AUDIO tab.]


Indigenous Australians are 2.6 times more likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous Australians, according to the Australian Department of Health.


"We really hope that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples get behind us as well because, heartbreakingly, they're more than two times more likely to die by suicide than non-Indigenous Australians," Ms Lewis told NITV.


"We know that it's even more complex as an issue because of cultural dislocation, because of broken family lines, because of all the complexities that have come since settlement.


"Don't we really hope that getting behind R U OK? will mean that people can try and walk in another’s shoes and people try and understand their perspective and be that shoulder to lean on."



Support for people who want to discuss an issue is also available via Lifeline, online or through a telephone helpline: 13 11 14.


Mr Donovan said members his clan, Kuku Yalanji, can also seek support through more traditional methods of cellular healing, using Yigi Yigi (didgeridoo) vibrations.


"Realistically it's the whole process of traditional healing more than anything else and it’s the didgeridoo's massage which deeply resonates within the body and reaches that cellular level.


"It’s our traditional language that we're speaking, it's our traditional songs that we're singing, it's our traditional rhythms on the didgeridoo that make the healing.


The Australian arm of R U OK? aims to provide support to the First Peoples of this country by being part of Garma Youth Forum.


If this article has raised a personal issue that you would like to discuss or you would like to talk to someone and receive support, visit Lifeline at or call 13 11 14.