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ATA Live: Supporting mental health

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ATA Live is currently underway, with the topic of supporting mental health brought to the fore. MaxiTRANS Managing Director and CEO Dean Jenkins and R U OK? ambassador Barry Du Bois discuss the importance of getting the conversation started and asking R U OK?

MaxiTRANS has been involved with R U OK? Day since 2017, when the company decided to donate 1 per cent of sales on the day to the mental health and suicide prevention campaign. Since then, it has raised almost $60,000 through the support of its customers. “We saw that as a great way to get our suppliers and our customers involved as well because it’s something that the industry is passionate about and it’s an important issue for our industry,” says Jenkins.

Du Bois says that this sort of support from MaxiTRANS is incredibly important. “For a lot of truckies, their truck is their home a lot of the time. And as you can imagine, normally that’s an isolated feeling and in the last 6 months – it seems like forever now – we’ve been even more isolated.”

For around 30 years, Du Bois was a builder and developer and the R U OK? initiative is one that is very close to his heart. “Like a lot of truckies I saw myself as an alpha male. Through a couple of events throughout 2002 to about 2004, I found myself in a really dark spot. I was in a spot that I could see no return from,” he says. “On the outside, business was great and I seemed like a man’s man so to speak, and very much played the alpha male role. But inside I was desperately dark and considered leaving this planet, to tell you the truth.”

After being persuaded by his Du Bois’ wife, some mates asked if he was doing okay and that was a turning point. “Then they let me know that they sometimes weren’t doing okay and it was that that allowed me to start motoring out of that deep depression I was in.”

He says that if you’re going to ask the question R U OK?, it’s important to put your colleague or friend in a comfortable situation first. “If you feel that you’ve got a colleague or a friend or an associate that’s changed their mannerism or if you can notice something different, what we’re asking is to trust your gut and get yourself comfortable and see that they’re comfortable and simply ask the question. Once that’s happened, nine out of 10 times you’re going to find that they will talk. Let them know that you’re listening and as you’re listening, encourage them to talk more and let them know that if they need help, you’re there, or if they think they might need more professional help, let them know that you might be in a place to help them with that as well. That’s the beauty of a conversation, and once that’s done, check in with them.”

Du Bois also emphasises the importance of the R U OK? message for the trucking industry and commends the MaxiTRANS team for their efforts in supporting the cause. “What Dean and the team are doing there by helping us is allowing us to put in place initiatives and awareness programs of how you can make sure your friends, your colleagues an your mates don’t get into this position and if they do, how you can recognise it and help them out of it.”

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