Suicide prevention organisation R U OK? will work with social media influencers to convince over two million Australians to start more offline conversations with their family and friends.
The not-for-profit has partnered with influencer agency HooZu to promote, track and measure its message in the lead-up to R U OK? Day on Thursday 8 September.
“Given how active Australians are on social media, it makes perfect sense to use these channels to reach out and encourage more people to start conversations that could change lives,” said HooZu co-founder Lote Tuqiri.
“We’ve seen the start of a trend in the United States where charities work with social media influencers but R U OK? is among the very first here and is taking a typically innovative communications approach.”
Among those encouraging their followers to ask family, friends or colleagues “are you ok?” will be high profile sporting personalities Beau Ryan and Wendell Sailor.
HooZu will also leverage new technology communication app, Kwickie, with support and conversation tips from radio personality Bianca Dye and R U OK? conversation expert Rachel Clements, and share this content on a dedicated R U OK? channel.
Tuqiri said involving influencers is not simply about raising awareness but changing attitudes.
“There has been a big improvement in attitudes towards mental illness in recent years – but I still see a lot of reluctance to speak up and ask for help among young athletes,” said the former rugby league and union player. “There’s a fear that it could be seen as a ‘weakness’.”
“Having well known sporting stars and influencers encouraging people to start – or be receptive to an R U OK? conversation – can help change this.”
The eighth R U OK? Day will be held on Thursday 8 September and influencers will be spreading the message in the coming weeks.
R U OK? campaign director Rebecca Lewis said with eight Australians taking their own lives every day, there is a pressing need to use a range of communication approaches and platforms to reach and engage more people.
“We know that Australians are spending more and more time on social media, so we need to use these channels to encourage them to act on their gut instinct and reach out to someone they’re worried about,” said Lewis.