A conversation could change a life – R U OK DAY 2020

Today is R U OK DAY. A day to inspire and empower everyone to meaningfully connect with the people around them and start a conversation with anyone who may be struggling.

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 struggling with life. The R U OK? organisation aims to reduce the number of suicides in Australia, by urging people to reach out to each other and create supportive networks across our communities. Their goal is to educate and inspire everyone to learn what to say after R U OK? and start these conversations every day of the year.

Did you know? 

Early-intervention and open communication can reduce stigma, break down barriers and build trust which in turn promotes long-term, positive behavioural changes that can saves lives now and into the future. A simple way to provide support is by genuinely asking ?Are you OK?? and being prepared to have regular conversations to help someone who might be struggling to feel supported when confronted with challenges in life whether at home, work, school or in sport.

This year COVID-19 has affected everyone in some way, so now more than ever we all need to actively seek ways to connect, and in some cases reconnect, with those in our world.

If you’ve noticed a change, no matter how small ? its time to ask R U OK?

It won’t always be obvious when someone’s not doing so well but these are changes you can look out for that might signal, they need some extra support.

  • What are they Saying? Do they sound Confused, lonely or concerned about the future?
  • What are they Doing? Are they becoming withdrawn, losing interest in what they used to love or dismissive?
  • What’s going on in their Life? A change in work circumstances or job responsibilities, or issues at school or experiencing relationship issues?

By starting a conversation and commenting on the changes you’ve noticed, you could help that family member, friend or workmate open up. If they say they are not ok, you can follow our conversation steps to show them they?re supported and help them find strategies to better manage the load. If they are ok, that person will know you?re someone who cares enough to ask.

The R U OK? website has steps on how to ask someone if they are ok here is a summary of their advice:

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 ? with an open mind

Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation. If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence. 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: ?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??. If they’ve been feeling down  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.?

Some conversations are too big for family and friends to take on alone. If someone’s been really low for more than 2 weeks – or is at risk – please contact a professional as soon as you can.

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. 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.

Also remember that ?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.? R U OK Day, is all about creating more open and positive conversations about mental health with others, however it is just as important to ask yourself ?am I okay??. We need to look after ourselves and check in on our own health and wellbeing. Stay connected with people, this is the best way to transition through the phases of change we are experiencing globally.

To #StayConnected:

  • Create a list: Think about who in your world, personal or professional, near or far who might be struggling.
  • Dedicate the time: Make ‘time to ask? as part of your daily routine.
  • Choose your channel: Communicate in way that works for you both: make a phone call, send an SMS, video call, email or, if you can meet in person you might want to chat over the fence, go for a walk together or catch up for a cuppa.

If you or someone you know needs urgent professional support, please contact one of the agencies listed below: 

Lifeline 13 11 14 – Call 24/7 for crisis support

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 – People at risk of suicide, carers and bereavedn for inviting

All materials and images have been supplied by ruok.org.au


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