September 13 marks 10th annual R U OK? Day

Yanchep Secondary College Year 8 student Clayton Sommerville, student services program coordinator Brooke McFarlane, Year 8 coordinator Bec Genner and student Niyah Keldernan. Picture: Martin Kennealey d486721
Yanchep Secondary College Year 8 student Clayton Sommerville, student services program coordinator Brooke McFarlane, Year 8 coordinator Bec Genner and student Niyah Keldernan. Picture: Martin Kennealey d486721

HAVE a feeling someone you know or care about isn’t behaving as they normally would?

Perhaps they seem out of sorts?

More agitated or withdrawn?

Or they’re just not themselves.

Trust that gut instinct and act on it.

Today, September 13, is R U OK? Day – a national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that any day is the day to ask, “Are you OK?” and support those struggling with life.

Taking part with these four steps 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?”

2. Listen without judgement
Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation.
Don’t judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge things seem tough for them.
If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence.
Encourage them to explain: “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt that way?”
Show you’ve listened by repeating back what you’ve heard in your own words and ask if you have understood them properly.

3. Encourage action
Ask: “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”
Ask: “How would you like me to support you?”
Ask: “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”
You could say: “When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this… You might find it useful too.”
If they’ve been feeling really down for more than two 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.”
Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times.

4. Check in
Pop a reminder in your 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.”
Ask if they’ve found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.

R U OK? Day was launched in 2009 by founder Gavin Larkin who lost his father to suicide in 1995.

Larkin, who died of non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2011, wanted to spare other families the grief his own endured.

His idea has since become a national movement aimed at encouraging friends, families, loved ones and workmates to ask the question of anyone they are worried about, in a genuine and meaningful way.

“With about eight people taking their lives in Australia each day, and many more attempting, there’s still so much work to do,” campaign director Katherine Newton said.

“Each of us can be there for someone struggling with life by following R U OK?’s Four Steps and pointing people to available help.”

Visit www.ruok.org.au.

READ MORE: Yanchep Secondary College promotes mental wellbeing for R U Ok? Day