This week, we’re celebrating the amazing work that R U OK? Day is doing to bring attention to mental health and depression, and encouraging Australians to support their peers who may be having a hard time.
Held on 13 September, R U OK? Day is a national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that any day is the day to ask, “Are you ok?” and support those that are struggling. Taking part can be as simple as learning R U OK?’s four steps so you can have a conversation that could change a life.
How to ask someone you think might need support, and start the conversation
It’s a hard question to ask and can be stressful, especially if the person you want to talk to is becoming withdrawn and moody.
R U OK? has four simple steps to take if you know someone in your life who needs to talk:
The Four Steps:
1. Ask - the biggest and most important step
Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach. Help them open up by asking questions like "How are you going?" or "What’s been happening?"
Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like "You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?
2. Listen - let them open up to you
Take what they say seriously and don't interrupt or rush the conversation. Don’t judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that things seem tough for them. If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence. Encourage them to explain: "How are you feeling about that?" or "How long have you felt that way?" Show that you've listened by repeating back what you’ve heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly.
3. Encourage action - how can you work together to help them?
Ask: “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?” Ask: “How would you like me to support you?" Ask: “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”
4. Check in - it’s important to continue the conversation:
Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they're really struggling, follow up with them sooner. You could say: "I've been thinking of you and wanted to know how you've been going since we last chatted." Ask if they've found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven't done anything, don't judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment. Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.
If you’re planning on asking someone, there’s even a quiz to check that you're prepared.
What to do on R U OK? Day
The day is about inspiring people to start these conversations every day of the year. Help get your school, workplace and community by asking, "Are you ok?" with the resources found on their website. It’s as simple as posting to your social media platforms to raise awareness, letting the people closest to you know that you’re there for them, or taking the opportunity to reach out to someone who’s been on your mind. It could make all the difference.