It’s safe to say that these past two years have been extremely challenging for all of us and the limitations we have with face-to-face contact have made it even more challenging to reach out to our loved ones and create meaningful conversations and connections.
Not only can it be difficult to reach out to someone when you’re not in a great place but asking someone if they’re okay can also be a daunting task. What do I say? What if I say the wrong thing? Am I making it worse? These are all valid concerns. Here are a few tips to make asking “R U OK” not so daunting.
WHAT CAN YOU DO WHEN YOU’RE ASKING R U OK?
Before asking someone if they’re okay, check in with yourself. Are you in a good headspace? Are you capable of genuinely listening and giving as much time as needed to this conversation? If you don’t think you are, that’s okay! It can often be difficult to have these conversations when you aren’t in a great place yourself. Try to think of someone else in their support network who could talk to them.
If you’re in a good headspace…
- Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach
- Help them open up to you with questions like “How are you going?”
- If they’re not acting like themselves, 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?”
- Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation
- Don’t judge their experiences/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
- Ask questions like: “How would you like me to support you?”
- Some conversations are too big for family and friends to take on alone. If they’ve been feeling down for more than 2 weeks or are at risk, 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 help find the right person for you to talk to”
4. CHECK IN
- Put a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they’re really struggling, follow up with them sooner. Staying in touch and showing genuine care and concern can make a real difference
- You could say: “I’ve been thinking of you and wanted to know how you’ve been going since we last chatted”
Want more helpful tips from the R U OK Website? Click here.
If you’re currently experiencing a mental health crisis and need support immediately, don’t hesitate to contact:
Lifeline Australia | 13 11 14
Beyond Blue | 1300 22 4636
MensLine Australia | 1300 78 99 78
Suicide Call Back Service | 1300 659 467
Kidshelpline | 1800 55 1800
Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling | 1800 011 046
To find more of our blogs click here.