30 Aug 2021

‘Are you ok?’ is a question we should be asking every single day of the year

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“Are you OK?” are three simple words that truly have the power to change a person’s life… Not just their day, but their whole life.

Mental Health Month is an extremely important period of the year aimed at improving the lives of the 4.8 million Australians living with mental health conditions. That’s not to say it’s the only time we should be striving to do so; we should be focused on this issue all the time. For people who struggle with mental illness, dark times don’t discriminate between months and days. Mental health battles are something we are challenged by all-year round.


I’m not sure how familiar you are with my story, but I was a refugee twice, I was bullied at school, I was physically abused by my father, and I played professional tennis at the highest level. When I left home at 19, the heaviness of domestic violence, and the pressure from my father weighed down on me so much that I suffered from depression, anxiety and PTSD. And I almost committed suicide.


So I know first-hand the profound significance of being asked “Are you OK?”. It might not seem like a big deal, but for anyone facing mental health struggles, just knowing that someone cares for you really does make a world of difference. Initiatives like R U OK? Day and Mental Health Month are incredible because of their simplicity. They don’t need to be any more complex than asking that short and important question.


I wish more people would have asked if I was OK, especially after I left home. It would have been very helpful because I was so young and I struggled immensely. Through my tennis career, people perceived me as tough when I was actually sad, and they viewed me as cold when I was actually broken inside. We never truly know what’s going on in someone else’s world.


Sometimes people underestimate the power of sending a text or making a phone call. It doesn’t take a lot of time and effort but it really can, and does, have an enormous impact. By avoiding this question, and not asking, it only makes it harder for those of us who are experiencing difficulties.


On every level, we need to have more open conversations about mental illness. So don’t be scared of asking that question. Even if you don’t see anything wrong with someone, ask. And keep asking. It’s never annoying – trust me. Sometimes paying attention and being kind to others could literally change their life.


“Are you OK?” is so meaningful and it’s a question we should be asking each other not only during Mental Health Month , but on every day of the year.


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