A new app, released recently for World Happiness Day, is encouraging people to spend more time with friends and family in order to help us live longer and be happier.
Konnect, developed by R U OK? in conjunction with Virgin Mobile Australia, was developed in response to a national survey by the advocacy group which found that around 50 per cent of Australians spend two hours or less of their weekly downtime connecting with the people who matter most to them.
R U OK? chief executive Brendan Maher said the motivation behind the app was the need to get more people connecting and starting conversations with a simple tool that could be referred to at any time.
“In today’s world, mobile devices are a key platform to increase connections most of us having a device at hand every day of the year,” he said.
“This app serves as a reminder of the many ways in which we can spend more time with those who matter to us, any day of the year, and check in.”
Speaking to Wellness Daily, Mr Maher said the app would particularly pertinent for working professionals, for whom the workplace can often be the primary source of social activity and emotional support.
“When we’re trying to balance everything – careers, family friendships – it’s often our social relationships that we deprioritise,” he explained.
“Konnect is about getting us to shift our priorities by encouraging us to invest more time in our friendships and relationships, because when our relationships are strong, we’re more likely to have the trust and confidence to ask, “are you okay” of one another and respond honestly should we be struggling ourselves.”
It’s a simple app with a simple goal, he said, but the challenge moving forward would be to get professionals invested in using and returning to the app.
“The way we hope to do that is by challenging people to think critically about how much time they’re actually investing in their relationships,” he said.
“For many of us, our first reaction will be to think that our relationships are in tip-top shape, but when the follow-up question is “when did you last catch up, have a chat or open up to one another”, it tells another story.”
To combat this, the app will educate users on R U OK’s four conversation steps – ask are you okay, listen without judgement, encourage action, and check in – which, for working professionals, will be key to meaningful engagement both with the app and those around them.
“Our workmates often know the pressures we face each day and are well-placed to sense something’s not quite right with a colleague,” he said.
“The app gives them the skills and confidence to reach out, talk about the difficulties a workmate might be facing and assist them in accessing appropriate support.”
In the context of suicide prevention, such a platform can be paramount in ensuring an individual knows he or she has support, according to R U OK? campaign director Katherine Newton.
“When our relationships are strong, we’re more likely to see the signs someone is struggling with life, and have the trust and confidence to start a conversation with that person,” she said.
“Konnect can help people proactively reach out and maintain stronger relationships.”