WE encourage you to take a moment today to look around at who you know and who you talk to during the day, and ask a caring question; are you okay ?
It often takes some effort to not only ask this question, but also to listen carefully to the answer.
You may be asking a family member, neighbour, work mate, shop assistant, service provider or friend.
It's when you hear an answer like no, not really, not sure, so-so, maybe, or similar, that the following R U OK? tips can help you make a positive difference to another person's life and to your own.
Make sure you are ready to ask the question, prepared and picked the right moment. If you think you're not the person to ask the question, try to think of someone else who can
- 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?"
- Take everything 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 their situation.
- 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 what they have done in the past to manage similar situations.
- Check with them how you can support them.
- Ask them to think about what they can do for themselves to make them feel better.
- You might want to tell them how you dealt with a difficult time in your life.
- If they continue to be feeling down, encourage them to see a health professional. Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times.
- Follow up with a phone call or drop in to see them.
- Don't judge them on their response; they might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
- Stay in touch and be there for them.
A conversation could change a life. Simply showing genuine interest can make all the difference to someone who is going through tough times.
If you or anyone you know needs further help, call Lifeline on 131 114, Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800, Grief Line on 1800 845 745 or Suicide Callback Service on 1300 659 467.