No that’s not the Australian Antarctic Program's new recruitment slogan but rather that of 2022’s R U OK? Day. You don’t need to be an expert to have an RUOK? conversation. Listening and giving someone your time might be just what they need to help them through.
Individually, we’re each qualified in the specific field that brought us to Antarctica but to ask each other R U OK? We are all more than qualified. We think nothing of commenting on others’ work, investment choices, even reality tv character personalities, so yeah, I encourage you to have a chat.
Here on station we work, socialise, eat, sleep in relatively close quarters each and every day. If you’re not at dinner, keeping to yourself more than normal or acting out of character, it’s noticed. The good side of that is we’re able to see when others aren’t at their best, showing signs of distress or difficulty. In your own language and at an appropriate time you can slip in a, how’s things?, everything ok?, would you like to talk? or even throw in an R U OK? if nothing else comes to mind.
While living and working “down south” brings it’s own unique set of personal challenges, I believe we are very fortunate to have that tight network of work colleagues, mates and friends to lean on. When not at work the trips away to field huts, darts games, workouts, after work walks, drinks at the bar and numerous other events help to build the capacity of an informal support network contributing to suicide prevention.
So yeah, yesterday the 8th of September is marked as the day to say R U OK? but I encourage everyone here at Davis, and reading from wherever you are, to connect with those in your world and lend support when they are struggling with life. A conversation could change a life!