• Hannah Phillips

R U Ok?

R U OK Day is a national day of action held in September each year dedicated to reminding people to ask family, friends and colleagues, "R U OK?"

The main aim is teaching and encouraging people everywhere to start conversations with those around them if they begin to notice someone isn't behaving as they normally would, seems out of sorts, are more agitated or withdrawn, or they’re just not themselves.

Sarah spoke to CEO of R U OK Brendan Maher to find out how we can get involved this R U OK Day.

The four main ideas that R U OK wants us all to consider this September 13 are to:

1. Ask R U OK

  • 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?"

If they Push back

  • If they don’t want to talk, don’t criticise them.

  • Tell them you’re still concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them.

  • Avoid a confrontation.

  • You could say: “Please call me if you ever want to chat” or “Is there someone else you’d rather talk to?”

2. Listen without judgement

  • 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

  • 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?”

  • You could say: "When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this... You might find it useful too."

  • If they've been feeling really down for more than 2 weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say, "It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I'm happy to assist you to find the right person to talk to.”

  • Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times.

4.Check in

  • 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.

For more in depth ways to help someone close to you and to get involved in R U OK events head to the website ruok.org.au.

If you or anyone you know needs to reach out, you can always contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36

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