Today is R U Ok? Day which is the national day of action dedicated to reminding people to regularly check in with family and friends.
These 3 little words can open up a conversation…
And help someone admit that they’re overwhelmed, struggling with a problem or simply tired of life.
But the conversation will only start if you ask the question with a real desire to listen, to be there and spend time with that person, and not judge.
If you are quick to jump to conclusions, or rush the conversation, the friend or family member or workmate who might need your support will find it hard to open up. So be ready to ask the question and be ready to hear ‘I’m not ok’.
Who do you know that might need to be asked that question?
It could be someone you know who’s struggling with any number of life’s problems and you’re someone they can count on.
But what if you ask ‘are you ok?’ and the person isn’t?
Find somewhere to chat that’s private and comfortable for you both. Somewhere where there’ll be no pressure to end the conversation quickly.
Open questions are a great way to guide the conversation… Questions that start with ‘how long’ or ‘what has been happening’ or ‘why do you think that is’ can help the person open up.
Listen to what they have to say without judging what they’re going through.
It can be tempting to give quick answers.
Avoid saying ‘I know what you’re going through’…Or ‘Look on the bright side’
Tell them ‘you’re not alone’ Or… ‘I’m here for you and I want to listen to what you have to say.’
Once they start to admit they’re struggling, help them take one small step to improve their situation.
It could be that they need to see their doctor, or a counsellor if they’ve been feeling really low for more than 2 weeks.
They might need to talk to their boss, a teacher or a coach about an issue that’s been taking place at work, school or at the sports club.
… or some help thinking about what’s causing their troubles…
Sometimes we can be ready to have that conversation and the person just doesn’t want to talk.
That’s ok. Just let them know that you are always ready to have a chat when they’re ready.
But whether the conversation takes place or they would rather not talk just yet, make sure you follow up with them.
You’ve got what it takes to start a conversation. Just ask; listen and don’t judge; encourage action; and check in regularly.
Need more tips? Visit www.ruok.org.au
Need some extra support? For confidential advice and support 24/7, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 (Australia only). Find other supports at www.ruok.org.au/find-help