R U OK? is sharing free resources that encourage trainees and apprentices to foster supportive friendships by regularly checking in with their mates and paying attention to life events and any signs that might indicate they are struggling. The campaign is titled “Be a mate, it’s worth it”.
The Wellbeing at work: Apprenticeships and Mental Health report from Orygen found almost half of young people who begin an apprenticeship, will not finish it. One of the leading reasons for this is the impact of apprenticeships on the mental health of young people being affected by challenging working conditions, poor pay, or bullying.
When R U OK? Community Ambassador Megan Cox was accepted into an apprenticeship program while studying business and IT at TAFE NSW, she initially found it difficult to adjust and experienced anxiety and panic attacks.
“What really helped was being able to be open with those around me about the struggles I was facing,” says Cox, whose input helped shape the campaign. “Knowing I wasn’t alone and knowing people genuinely cared helped me get the support I needed.
“I’ve since learnt to recognise signs when those close to me might be struggling, and how to talk to them about it.”
Encouragement from her peers and assistance from her training provider’s mental health services helped Cox excel in her high-pressure, fast-paced work environment and in 2021 she was awarded Trainee of the Year at both the Australian Training Awards and NSW Training Awards. She now works as an HR Coordinator.
“I’m passionate about supporting others and want all young people to feel they can have an R U OK? Conversation. ‘Be a mate, it’s worth it’ recognises how important good friends are when we’re going through tough times, as well as providing tips for how to have these conversations.”
The resources were developed with support from Spirit Super, and include free practical tools and tips that empower trainees and apprentices with the knowledge and confidence to have meaningful R U OK? conversations and foster supportive friendships.
“Research shows being an apprentice or trainee can be challenging for young people who are learning how to transition from classroom to workplace,” says R U OK? CEO Katherine Newton. “This, along with the usual ups and downs of life, can have a cumulative effect and impact their mental health and sense of social connection.
“We encourage them to make the time to build strong friendships they can rely on as they move through life to ensure they feel connected and supported. This is about being there for your mates, and them being there for you.”
All “Be a mate, it’s worth it” resources are free to access at ruok.org.au