Lately, uncertainty has been a key part of day-to-day life. Although you should always take some time to check in with yourself to see if you're doing ok, you can also help others by asking them the same thing.

The R U OK? DAY theme this year is: Are they really OK? Ask them today. Do you know how the people in your world are really going? Life's ups and downs happen to all of us. So chances are someone you know might be struggling. Your genuine support can make a difference whatever they are facing, big or small. So, don’t wait until someone’s visibly distressed or in crisis. Make a moment meaningful and ask them how they’re really going. Your conversation could change a life.

If you're wondering how to have that conversation (it's not always easy!) R U OK? has some top tips on how to start a conversation that could change a life. R U OK? inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and start a conversation with those in their world who may be struggling with life. All you need is to be a good friend or colleague and a great listener.

Before jumping into asking someone else if they're ok, get yourself ready to ask. Before you can look out for others, you need to look out for yourself. If you're not in the right headspace or you don't think you're the right person to have the conversation, try to think of someone else in their support network who could talk to them. To help you decide whether you’re ready to start a meaningful conversation, ask yourself:

  • Am I in a good headspace?

  • Am I willing to genuinely listen?

  • Can I give as much time as needed?

  • Do I understand that if I ask how someone’s going, the answer could be: “No, I’m not”?

  • Do I understand that you can’t ‘fix’ someone’s problems?

  • Do I accept that they might not be ready to talk? Or they might not want to talk to me?

  • Have I chosen somewhere relatively private and comfy?

  • Have I figured out a time that will be good for them to chat?

  • Have I made sure I have enough time to chat properly?

When you feel ready:

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 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

  • 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.

IF THEY NEED EXPERT HELP

Some conversations are too big for family and friends to take on alone. If someone’s been really low for more than two weeks - or is at risk - reach out to a professional resource as soon as you can. Here are some widely available contacts.

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.


If you have any questions or need extra support, we're here to help you anytime in any language.

Information sourced from: R U OK?

Image credit: Christin Hume on Unsplash

All content is created and published for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice.

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