10 Sep Today is R U OK? Day | Are you OK?
Today is R U OK? Day; a national day of action when Australians are reminded that every day is the day to ask “Are you OK?” if someone in your world is struggling with life’s ups and downs.
The challenging times 2020 has thrown at us have made it more important than ever for us all to stay connected and, for those who are able to, be willing to support people around us.
This year’s message for R U OK? Day is: There’s more to say after R U OK? and encourages everyone to invest more time in the people around us, because when our relationships are strong, we’re more likely to see the signs that someone is struggling. And when you see those signs, notice changes, or just feel that something is not quite right with a friend, colleague, loved one, team mate or neighbour – trust that gut instinct, reach out to them and ask R U OK?
By starting a conversation and commenting on the changes you’ve noticed, you could help that person you care about to open up. If they say they are ok, that person will know you’re someone who cares enough to ask. If they say they are not ok, you can follow the R U OK conversation steps to show them they’re supported and help them find strategies to better manage the load.
You can view or download ‘A practical guide to supporting R U OK?’ by clicking here or please visit https://www.ruok.org.au/ for more information.
1: Ask R U OK?
- Be relaxed.
- Help them open up by asking questions like “How you going?”, “What’s been happening?” or “How are you travelling?”
- Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like “I’ve noticed that you seem really tired recently” or “You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?”
- Take what they say seriously.
- Don’t interrupt or rush the conversation.
- If they need time to think, try and sit patiently with the silence.
- Have an open mind and take what they say seriously.
- Ask “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt that way?”
- Show that you’ve listened. You could say, “It sounds like you’re juggling a few things at the moment and you’re feeling really stretched.”
- If they get angry or upset, stay calm and don’t take it personally. Let them know you’re asking because you care and acknowledge that times seem tough for them.
3: Encourage action
- Help them think about one or two things that can be done to better manage the situation. You could suggest they take some time out for themselves or do something that’s fun or relaxing.
- Ask “What can I do to help you get through this?” or “How would you like me to support you?”
- If you’ve found a particular strategy or health service useful, share it with them. You can say something like: “When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this… You might find it useful too.”
- If necessary, encourage them to see a doctor or other professional. This is particularly important if they’ve been feeling really down for more than two weeks. You could say, “It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I’m happy to help you find the right person to talk to.” Or you could ask, “Do you think it would be useful if we looked into finding some professional support?”
- Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times, but understand that it may take a bit of time to find the right one. You can find all sorts of help here: ruok.org.au/findhelp
4: Check in
- Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they’re really struggling, check in with them sooner.
- Say something like, “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.
- Understand that sometimes it can take a long time for someone to be ready to see a professional. We can’t rush this or force someone to seek support. Instead, remain optimistic about the benefits of getting help and try not to judge them.
- Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.