"R U OK Day offers an important reminder to check in with those we love."
– Holly Ryan

Thursday 12th September is R U OK Day – a national event in support of mental health awareness and suicide prevention. This serves as an annual reminder to touch base with those around us.

Mental health is an issue that touches so many Australians and it's one that is close to Holly's heart. So this year, the designer decided to open up for R U OK Day in a special shoot by Rachel Yabsley of The Fourth Creative.

Here, Holly features alongside influencers Holly Boorman and Jordan Turner, writer Rosie Dalton, model Jess Vander Leahy and actress Maree Lowes.

Photography by Rachel Yabsley
Makeup by Maddie Priestley 
Jewellery by Holly Ryan



Earlier this week I caught up with six friends who all work in creative fields to talk about what mental health means to them, and the importance of R U OK Day. It was two days of conversations that I will cherish forever; discussing a topic that is so close to my heart with like-minded people was incredibly fulfilling. Each person I interviewed had their own experiences and journeys with mental health, either personally or with someone close to them, and it was so interesting to hear their stories. But despite their varying journeys there were a few common takeaways from each conversation… 

Everyone felt that the pressures of modern society – social media, environmental awareness, etc - were large contributing factors toward their battles with mental health. The way we are able to compare our lives with others, consciously or not, and our impatience to live an extraordinary life and document every minute of it clearly has a negative impact on our mental state. However, meditation, limiting screen time, exercise, pursuing hobbies, and getting into nature were all practices listed by the group that help them calm anxiety and depression. Having a strong support network and finding the right people to talk to was also a key theme for staying grounded. And with R U OK Day, we all have the opportunity to be that support network for those around us who might be having a hard time. 

But that is sometimes easier said than done. The hardest part of providing support for someone who might be feeling more down or stressed than usual is that most of us don’t really know what to say. After having these conversations (and based on my own experience), the best thing really is to simply ask if that person is doing okay. If they don’t want to open up then and there, ask again the next day. Keep the follow up going – ask them for coffee or over for a home cooked dinner. Just being present in their life in a really relaxed way can make all the difference to how they’re feeling. And keep an eye out for signs that someone close to you might not be okay – such as isolating themselves, posting strange things to their social media (which is often a subtle cry for help), dramatic life changes, as well as your own gut feeling that they might be struggling.  


"Being okay is far more difficult than it seems sometimes. But it’s a journey. Forgiving yourself and being kind to yourself is so important, and remember that nobody is perfect – you can punish yourself mentally and put yourself down incessantly and it will never make you achieve the things you want, it will only ever make you feel worse. And if you don’t have the capacity at the moment to be kind to yourself, surround yourself with others who will do that job for you. And if those people aren’t available or nearby, there are lots of resources that can help.

Thank you so much to Holly Ryan, Rosie Dalton, Jessica Vander Leahy, Maree Lowes, Jordan Turner, and Holly Leelu for opening up to me about your feelings and journeys with mental health. It takes so much courage to be honest and candid about such a difficult topic and I appreciate each and every second that you gave to me and this project. And thank you to Maddie Preistley, our make up artist, who was my own little spark of joy throughout my many deep and emotional conversations."

– Rachel Yabsley, The Fourth Creative


If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health, you can find a list of helpful resources via Beyond Blue. And, when in doubt, just remember to ask: R U OK?