This Thursday 12 September is R U Okay Day (2019). R U Ok Day is a national charity, inspiring people to meaningfully connect with those around them to help support anyone struggling with life.
Life is complicated and full of ups and downs. No one is immune to hard days. Sad news. Bad seasons. Difficult times. Stressors. Hardships. Life can throw you a sucker punch to the face, seemingly always when you least expect it. That’s why it’s important to check on our mates and loved ones. A phone call here, a DM there, a chat as you go for a lunchtime walk or a shared cuppa and afternoon tea. Any opportunity can hold space for that important conversation. So, if you’ve noticed that a colleague, a friend or a family member doesn’t quite seem themselves - why not dig a little deeper. You never know when your support may help to change someone’s day for the better.
Spending time with people you care about, and starting that conversation in a safe space, can help them to open up. A simple question such as - “you seem a bit quiet today, everything okay?” , “how’s things at home?”, “How are you feeling about XYZ?”, “I haven’t seen you out and about in a while, how’ve you been travelling?” - can pave the way for open conversation.
When you take the time to genuinely listen, without purely listening to respond, you can help someone feel valued and cared for. By letting the conversation unfold naturally the individual has the opportunity to share how they are really feeling, and it also gives you the chance to encourage them to explain points further. If the individual becomes visibly upset or angry, don’t take it personally. It can be hard for people to open up at the best of times let alone if they are struggling. There is value in silence, so don’t be put off by moments of quiet thought. Sometimes, just having someone show they care can mean so much.
Is there anything you can do to help? Encourage them to think about what some of the next steps may be. Empower the individual to explore strategies that they can implement themselves (or with the help of others) to help them through.
Follow up and check in with your colleague, friend or family member. There may be times where you (and/or they) feel more assistance is needed, and in this instance there are many support services available - such as Lifeline, BeyondBlue, your local GP and/or your workplace Employee Assistance Program (EAP).
Today is R U Ok Day - and whilst mental health is as complex and diverse as we are as humans - I think this day is a great reminder to look out for our friends, colleagues and family - not just today, but every day.