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How to ask R U OK?

Posted 09 September 2021
by Clare Davy

R U OK? is an Australian suicide prevention organisation founded in 2009. Its purpose is to advocate the importance of talking about mental health and encouraging people to have conversations with others. The organisation has dedicated the second Thursday of September as R U OK? Day, which encourages all people to connect with others and ask the question – are you okay? – and start life-changing conversations.

Sometimes we get a feeling that someone you know or care about is not behaving as they normally would. They seem out of sorts and not themselves. Perhaps, withdrawn or agitated. We need to trust our instincts and act on them. So, how do we ask - are you okay? – and keep the conversation going.

Below are conversation steps designed by R U OK? to help you start the conversation, show them they are supported and help them find strategies to get further support. For more details, visit the R U OK? website

1. Ask R U OK?

  • “How are things at the moment?”
  • “You don’t seem yourself lately”
  • Help them open up
  • Reiterate that you are there for them
  • Offer no judgements or opinions
  • Respect that they may not want to talk

2. Listen

  • Encourage them to share, do not rush them, give them your full attention
  • Acknowledge their experience
  • Repeat back what they say to show you are listening
  • Ask that you understand correctly
  • Don’t sweat silence, let them think

3. Encourage Action

  • Ask how they have dealt with the issue previously
  • Help give them perspective
  • Encourage them to do something for themselves
  • Encourage them to seek professional help

4. Check In

  • Ensure to follow up regularly
  • Ask how they are progressing (through their efforts or professional support)
  • If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them but allow them to do things in their own time
  • Stay in touch

Remember to support your wellbeing by practising self-care, eating well, exercising and getting good quality sleep. 

For more information about the R U OK? organisation, their story, vision and goals, and further resources, please visit their website https://www.ruok.org.au/.

Allegra Consulting acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.