Mental health is something that still carries a stigma and not many people speak about it outright. What we fail to sometimes do in your busy lives is simply ask someone if they are okay. Today, September 12th 2019 is R U OK? DAY, where people are inspired and empowered to meaningfully connect with those around them and start a conversation with anyone who may be struggling with life.
Staying connected with others is so important for our general health and wellbeing, as well as our mental health. Feeling isolated or hopeless can impact a person’s mood and contribute to depression and other mental illnesses. Feeling like there is no one there to speak to when a person is at their lowest may lead to suicide. Acknowledging and participating in having a meaning conversation regularly can support those we love and care about. The thing to remember is, it can just be a normal conversation to show someone you’re there.
Looking after our mental health is something we talk about with our clients, but on this day, everyone, not just health professionals, are encouraged to reach out and ask R U OK? This initiate is especially important for those who do not speak out easily about their struggles.
How to start an R U OK conversation?
Ask R U OK?: Come from a relaxed, friendly and concerned approach by asking ‘how are you going?’. Mentioning specific things of concern can let the person know that you have noticed things are different and you care.
Listen: Take a non-judgmental stance and take in what they are saying. Don’t interrupt or rush the conversation. Then repeat back what they said to show them you really listened and to make sure you understood them.
Encourage Action: Provide them with options that can help them during this time. Use examples of things that may have helped you in the past, or things you remember they like. Importantly, if the person has been feeling really down for 2 or more weeks, encourage them to see a health professional.
Check In: See how they are coping a few days or a week later, ask what they have been doing to manage the situation. They may just need someone to listen – so stay in touch and be there for them.
So, today, when you walk past your colleague, your neighbour, see your friend, or partner, or family member, or even bump into an old acquaintance - ask, R U OK?
Our team at Melbourne Wellbeing Group thrives on promoting the mental health and wellbeing of people of all ages. If you are having some struggles, give us a call to make an appointment with one of our team of Psychologists