R U OK? train starts conversations in Dubbo

It’s okay to be not okay.

That was the message on Thursday afternoon as the XPT – carrying an R U OK? billboard – rolled into the Dubbo Station.

On board were representatives from suicide prevention charity R U OK? and the TrackSAFE Foundation, who have joined forces with NSW Trainlink and Sydney Trains to bring their message to regional NSW.

TrackSAFE Foundation chairman Bob Herbert hoped the bright, mobile billboard would encourage people to ask friends, family or work colleagues ‘R U OK?’

“We think people should ask the question … then start a conversation and if there’s some anxiety or concerns, offer the person some help, or where they can get some help, then importantly tune back in with them to see how they’re going,” he said.

“In the rail industry a lot of people see daily trauma. There can be issues on the rail which themselves cause anxiety for rail employees, but also in their personal life they can have anxieties.

“To be able to engage your mate or your work colleague and ask them ‘R U OK?’ is a very important step in trying to help people through it.”

Dubbo’s Camilla Kenny, of the Rural Adversity Mental Health program, said it was great to have the R U OK? brand back in Dubbo, just 10 days after the Conversation Convoy passed through.

“The train trip is going to be an awesome opportunity for people to ask that question and get the conversation going past that initial question as well,” Ms Kenny said.

“R U OK? has a great campaign going at the moment where, yes it’s about asking that question, but it’s also about listening to the person, following up with them and encouraging them to act upon it and get some help … If people aren’t okay, there’s lots of options out there.”

A GP was a good first port of call, Ms Kenny said, and they could help directly, or refer people to a psychologist, psychiatrists, social workers or other counsellor.

Online counselling and information is available, particularly from sources like eheadspace.org.au (people aged 12-25) and Lifeline.

“Really every day should be R U OK? Day,” Mr Herbert said. “But … by coming to Dubbo we’re very pleased to engage the community … and encourage them to ask the question ‘R U OK?’”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit www.lifeline.org.au or call Lifeline on 13 11 14. You can also call the Mental Health Line on 1800 011 511.