Simple question can make help

IT’S A simple question: are you okay?

But it might be a lifesaver for someone living with depression or anxiety, and just reaching out could have a significant impact, says Biloela Doctor Ross Woodward

A national day of action, R U OK? Day on Sunday aims to raise awareness of, and assist in preventing, suicide.

Dr Woodward said while the message was simple, the impact of depression and anxiety on the community and its relationship with other health issues was often under-recognised.

He said that general practice has a vital role to play in treating and managing mental illness which can often trigger suicide.

“I would encourage people to visit their General Practitioner (GP) for any mental health issues, not just their physical health.

“Often there is a link with physical health impacting on mental health and wellbeing and GPs are well equipped to deal with both,” said Dr Woodward.

The Central Queensland Rural Division of General Practice (CQRDGP) runs a number of mental health programs supporting GPs to deliver good care in the Banana Shire.

“The programs include Access to Allied Psychological Services program which enables GPs to refer patients to psychologists easily and offers more patient support/ better access to psychiatrists, psychologists and GPs through the Medicare Benefits Schedule Initiative increasing community access to mental health professionals and team-based mental health care, with GPs encouraged to work more closely and collaboratively with mental health professionals.

“Mental Health Nurse Incentive Program (MHNIP) which enables GPs to engage mental health nurses and work in collaboration to provide services such as monitoring a patient’s mental state, medication management and improving links to other health professionals.

“Mental Health Support for Drought Affected Communities initiative which provide community outreach and crisis counselling and Pit Stop, which sees teams of general practice network staff undertake health checks in many different settings such as stock saleyards and agricultural field days.”

Dr Woodward encouraged the Banana Shire community to heed the message of R U OK? Day For more information visit the website


Lifeline has developed these Five Top Tips

1. Be receptive

  • Take the lead, show initiative and ask: “Are you OK?”
  • Put the invitation out there: “I’ve got time to talk”

2. Use ice breakers to initiate a conversation

  • Use open-ended questions such as “So tell me about...?”, which require more than a “yes” or “no” answer

3. Practice your listening skills

  • Listen to what a person is saying
  • Be open minded and non-judgemental

4. Be encouraging

  • Encourage physical health.
  • Encourage the person to seek professional help

5. What not to do when trying to help someone:

  • Pressure them to “snap out of it”, “get their act together” or “cheer up”
  • Stay away or avoid them
  • Tell them they just need to stay busy or get out more
  • Suggest alcohol or drugs

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