Checking in on Rail R U OK? Day and How our Mental Health First Aiders are making a difference
Today April 30 is Rail R U OK? Day. Every year the TrackSAFE Foundation and R U OK? team up to deliver Rail R U OK? Day to encourage genuine conversations between employees and across the rail community. We all go through life’s challenges, so having regular, meaningful conversations can make a difference to our workmates. If you see someone who may be struggling, you are encouraged to reach out with a simple question, “R U OK?”. This industry-wide event reaches over 50,000 rail employees each year. Aurizon is proud to be lending its support to this initiative.
Rail R U OK? Day is a day where employees across Aurizon are reminded to reach out regularly to one another and ask that simple question ‘R U OK?’.
Now it’s more important than ever that we look after our mental health and wellbeing and support each other. It’s okay to not be okay, not just during the COVID-19 pandemic but also at any time throughout your life.
Last year, Aurizon established a Mental Health Peer Support Group across its national footprint. The group now has more than 60 employees across Aurizon who are qualified Mental Health First Aiders (MeHFA) after undertaking a two-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course provided by our partner TrackSAFE.
Rachael Williams, one of our Regional Operations Leaders, says she was grateful to be given the opportunity to do this training.
“I wanted to do the MHFA training because mental health is such an important part of overall health and wellbeing. I have a psychology background and saw this as a practical way to revisit those skills,” she said.
“The training helped with identifying the behaviours to look for and how to have conversations with people when you notice a change of behaviour.
“In my workplace it has made a big difference to the types of questions I ask when talking to crews and has redefined the regular “R U OK?” conversations I have as part of my role.
“There is still a reluctance amongst some employees to talk about difficulties they are having in their lives, instead trying to “tough it out”.
“I have had conversations with people at all hours of the day and night following significant workplace events. I have seen and experienced how the care and support you can provide to people at these really difficult times can positively or negatively impact what they think and feel. In those situations, I have not been able to take away what has happened or rewind the clock, but I have been able to be empathetic, listen and be honest with them” she said.
“The training has helped me to talk to crews that it is ok to seek help and about the value of seeking help and support to navigate difficult times.”
Rachael reinforced the importance of asking the simple question: “I believe asking R U OK is important because people can feel more comfortable answering this than speaking up when they are struggling. It is a selfless act to think of others and check in with them.”
She stressed always to listen with an “open mind” and to never assume what you think the answer will be or what you think a person has going on.
“It is vitally important that after the conversation you encourage action and be prepared with details or suggestions of where people can seek professional help. Make sure if you can to follow up after your conversation to see how the person is.”
To find out more about Rail R U Ok Day? please go the TrackSAFE page.