Ventia Disability and Social Inclusion Manager Dan Osgood with his brother Caleb

Dan Osgood, our Disability and Social Inclusion Manager shares why it's important for us to share open, honest and positive conversations about mental health.

Teams across Ventia are recognising and supporting R U OK? Day, which is held annually on 8 September. 

This year the theme for R U OK? Day is 'No qualifications needed'. 

As Dan Osgood, our Disability and Social Inclusion Manager says, "You don't need a qualification to care about people, you just need to care. I get to work with so many different people working at Ventia and I know that we have the best people and some with the biggest hearts who are always wanting to do the right thing. 

Your mental health is the most important thing you have. Because if you don't feel mentally well, how can you give the best version to yourself or anyone else?

As well as working in health services and having a degree in Social Science, Dan's mum has been a mental health nurse for 35 years. Dan has grown up recognising why it's important to share open, honest and positive conversations about mental health. 

Words matter

"I remember years ago and being really anxious before I was about to sit my HSC," Dan says. "My mind was cluttered and I wasn't in the present and realised that I had left my calculator at home and just before the exam. Instead of being understanding and supportive, a teacher humiliated me by laughing at me in front of 100 students and saying, "Get used to saying this, 'Would you like a large fries with that?'". 

Words matter. Everything this teacher said was about making me feel inadequate about myself and my future aspirations.

Dan says he didn't get the marks he needed to get into university, so between the ages of 18 and 21 he found it tough watching his friends go off and study or complete trades. 

"While I've had many successes since then you can't forget those moments as they created and changed perceptions of who I thought I was. I don't want anyone else to feel that way - feeling like a failure and being judged - which is why I am so passionate about my job at Ventia."

Dan Osgood and Tracey Smith at a Ventia career event

Dan is passionate about his job as a Disability and Social Inclusion Manager at Ventia - here at a career event with Tracey Smith.

It's OK to share you've struggled

Dan also stresses that it's important for leaders to create an environment where it's OK to share you've struggled, you're anxious or depressed. 

It's scary being vulnerable, particularly in the workplace where you feel you have to pretend 'everything's OK' - even when things are not going so well at work, home or both.

In addition to looking out for others, Dan also shares how important it is to regularly check in with yourself - to make sure you're OK, too. 

"My head and thoughts are always busy. If I'm feeling stressed and can't focus, one of the things I'll do is go for a walk for 15 minutes and practice my '5-4-3' technique. It's where I find 5 things to see, 4 things to hear and 3 things I can touch. It grounds me, brings me back to the present, helps me reconnect my senses and refocus."

Notice the little things

Dan's final advice is to keep an eye on the little things, before they become big things. 

"To me it's about take care of yourself and being cognisant of the little changes that only you can notice when you're not doing so great," he advises. "Did you used to go for a walk before work but you've stopped because you're more tired than normal? That's when you need to go for that walk or make a change. Talking things over with someone you trust helps more than you think and If you're that for someone, you just need to listen and care - there's no qualifications needed."

With many thanks to Dan for sharing his story with us.

Derek Osborn and Dan Osgood share a selfie in front of a Ventia sign

Group Executive Derek Osborn and Disability and Social Inclusion Manager Dan Osgood share a selfie.


Show your support for R U OK? Day

  • Regularly check in with your colleagues, family and friends because you will notice the small changes that may indicate they may not be OK.
  • Access our R U OK? campaign site for resources.


Top image: 'My friendship with Caleb is one of my most importatnt relationships. He gives me so much support and I know I can just be myself with him. And Caleb knows that I'm also always there for him, too' - Dan Osgood.