We ask people “how are you?” and “how are you going?” all the time. It’s a very Australian thing to do.

But actually asking “are you OK?” is different. The actual terminology is very important.

It’s more forward. It invites people to say “no”.

It’s important to know it’s okay to say “no” and giving people permission to say “they’re not OK”.

You don’t have to solve their problems. You don’t have to be a qualified psychologist. You just need to listen.

Sometimes listening can be enough to get a person out of a crisis or simply help them get through whatever it is they’re going through.

UK, London - 4/8/18 Vitality Hockey Women Worl Cup Queen´s Elizabeth Park Copyrigth: World_Sport_Pics, Rodrigo Jaramillo Match ID: Day 13 Photo:

I first got involved with R U OK? when a friend who was working for them contacted me about having involvement in some way. I hadn’t heard of them before I got involved. My history with health, working as a nurse where you obviously study mental health, I had a bit of an interest there.

The message really aligns with one of my beliefs around helping people talk to each other, checking in. I’ve been an ambassador with them ever since, maybe six or seven years now.

In 2014, ex-Hockeyroo Ash Nelson and I walked the Kokoda Trail where we raised around $32,000 and then we did the Perth to Albany bike ride (approximately 730 kilometres) which raised $28,000, but the majority of it was about visiting rural and farming towns and spreading the message about mental health and R U OK?

Kokoda was incredible. We got to meet some amazing people along the way because they found out we were doing it for R U OK?, lots of people opened up and shared their stories. It was quite inspiring to hear different people’s stories. It was an incredible experience, one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Visiting mine sites has been the next phase for us as R U OK? Ambassadors. This is our fourth year going to mine sites.

Lynch RUOK1

We were up there for four days last week. It’s such a rewarding thing, trying to spread the message to a group of people who are in a really difficult environment.

We see a lot of parallels within our sport. You’re away from your family and friends (the Hockeyroos must move from their home towns to be part of Hockey Australia’s centralised High Performance program in Perth), you’re away from your support network, when issues arise you do have to rely on your mates around you and for these guys it’s their colleagues.

They work very, very hard, long days in tough conditions and they need to check in with each other. For us to go up there and put smiles on faces and do something different, over those four days, is great.

Ash and I were reflecting, after going to different work areas, meeting people and chatting and I reckon 100% of the conversations I had naturally ended up in the mental health wellbeing space with them sharing a personal experience.

We were just there to talk with them, to get to know them and their work area, but for some reason people felt comfortable enough to open up to us and share that experience which made us feel incredibly blessed. That’s what we’re all about.

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Mental health doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone. From an athlete’s perspective we have to follow the message anyway, because R U OK? is about looking after each other and supporting each other.

The fact we, the Hockeyroos, have to move to Perth in a high-pressure environment away from your family and support networks means that we need to lean on each other a bit more. That’s the message I try to share anyway.

In R U OK? capacity it’s about suicide prevention and mental health. There’s definitely an aspect of prevention in how you can stop problems getting larger simply by talking about them.

From the first moment moving away into an unfamiliar environment, you’re on your own, you’ve got to find your own house, find your own job, meet new people, try and fit into something. The program provides you with a platform to be there but otherwise you’re fending for yourself.

It’s one thing to ring your parents at night to de-brief things but you need support from people who are actually there. Your teammates are the ones who are there all the time. They’re the ones we need to be educating to help provide it and they’re also the ones who’ll pick up on changes in you, which is what we try to explain to the guys on the mine site.

Lynch RUOK1

If someone has got something going on at home or is not in a good place, you’ll be the ones to see it.

It won’t be the psychologist, it won’t be the coach, it won’t be the administrator, and it’s the same for these guys, it won’t be the supervisor or the senior manager, it’ll be the guy who’s working next to you that’ll notice.

It’s about how you can jump in and ask “are you OK?” and basically listen. That’s the idea.

Rachael Lynch is a Hockeyroo, a goalkeeping coach, a nurse and an ambassador for “R U OK?” which is an Australian suicide prevention charity. Rachael last week spent time visiting workers in remote mine sites in WA’s north spreading the message and, ahead of “R U OK? Day” this Thursday.