R U prepared to ask the question?
R U OK? day is Thursday 12 September. It’s a national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone to ask, “Are you OK?” and to remember every day of the year to support people who may be struggling with life’s ups and downs.
R U OK day has four simple steps:
You’re encouraged if you feel like something’s not quite right with someone you know, trust that gut instinct, and take the time ask, “Are you OK?”. You don’t have to be an expert to have a caring, meaningful conversation.
But are you prepared to ask the question and listen to the answer? Before you ask someone “R U OK?” consider the following 4 points:
1. Are you the right person to ask?
Would the person you are asking, actually tell you that they’re not doing well? Or would they just smile and wave it off? If you know someone who is feeling down, you should consider whether you are the right person to ask the question. For example, there may be someone at work who you are concerned about, but that person may not feel comfortable disclosing something from their personal life. You could ask another colleague who is closer to them or try using HR and management to ask instead.
2. Find the right time and place.
Asking someone “R U OK?” in front of a group of people or publicly posting on their facebook page is unlikely to get a genuine answer from the other person. Find a time and place where you and that person can be relaxed and speak openly with each other.
3. What if they don’t want to talk?
If they don’t want to talk, that’s fine, don’t criticise them. Make sure to tell them why you’re concerned about them but avoid confrontation. You can always let them know that you are there to talk if they need you. Also, think back to point 1, is there someone else they’ll be more likely to talk to?
4. What if they aren’t okay?
Are you prepared for someone to say “no”? You need to be ready to hear that person’s story and support them. You can prepare for this by reading the how to ask guide developed by R U OK.
Some people may benefit from speaking to a counsellor. If they are having trouble with family or their partner, you could refer them to Relationship Counselling, or they may need help working through something by themselves in Personal Counselling.
If you are worried about somebody being suicidal contact Lifeline for crisis support. If life is in danger, call 000.