I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a truly challenging year for all of us considering that current circumstances have made it increasingly difficult to stay connected to one another, which is why it has been even more important this year to support those around us.

This year the message for R U OK day is “There’s more to say after R U OK” encouraging us to continue the conversation beyond asking R U OK.

So, what should you be saying after R U OK?

You don’t need to be an expert to reach out – just be a good friend and a great listener. Use these simple four steps and have a conversation that could change a life:

 

  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?”

 

 What If…

 

. 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?”

 

  1. Listen

. Listen with an open mind

. 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

 

  1. Encourage action

. Ask: “How would you like me to support you?”

. Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times

. 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.”

 

  1. Check in

. Pop a reminder in your calendar or 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.”

. Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.

 

If you want to learn more about how to keep the conversation going you can find extra resources on the official R U OK website.

Read more on mental health: Maintaining Mental Health in Isolation