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Time to reconnect and ask R U OK?

7 September 2016

R U OK? Only three little words, or just four letters, depending on which generation you are from.

Today, marks R U OK? Day for 2016. While everyday should be about asking R U OK?, today is a national day of action dedicated to reminding us to check in regularly with family and friends.
It sounds simple enough right? But how often have we put off a phone call or cancelled a coffee date because of our busy lives. When life is busy, it is nice every now and then to get a reminder to slow down and make time.

Last month, R U OK? released some research that indicated that Australians spend an average of six hours engaging with family and friends per week, with half of Australian spending two hours or less connecting with people who matter with them.

R U OK? Day is about strengthening our relationships and bridging the gap between caring about someone and letting them know that you are there for them when they need it.

Everyone can take part, with the first important step being to ask R U OK?

"...you don’t need to be a trained professional or an expert to support someone going through a tough time. You just need to be able to listen to their concerns without judgement and to take the time to follow up with them."

Jaelea Skehan, Director, Hunter Institute of Mental Health

But don’t ask it in a way that makes people feel they have to say “fine”. Ask it in a way that the person can answer honestly and be ready for the response.

Sometimes people are fearful of asking R U OK because they feel ill-equipped if the answer is “no, I’m not”.

The truth is, you don’t need to be a trained professional or an expert to support someone going through a tough time. You just need to be able to listen to their concerns without judgement and to take the time to follow up with them.

So, here are the four steps to asking R U OK

  • Step one: Start the conversations - ask R U OK?. To be honest, use any words that you feel comfortable with.
  • Step two: Listen without judgement and don’t try and solve the problem. Just be there.
  • Step three: Encourage action, whether that is telling someone else or making an appointment with their doctor or getting more information from a service online.
  • Step four: Follow up. Check in with them again tomorrow at work or put a note in your diary to call them in one week.

So, if there is someone that you have been thinking about and wondering how they are going - ring them, email them, see if they want to catch up for a coffee or a walk. There is no better day than today to reconnect.

Our connection to others is what builds us up and keeps us strong. Having people sit beside us when times are good and when times are bad can make all the difference.

And if you are not OK, make today the day you tell someone. Talk to a trusted friend or contact one of the many services who are ready to listen.

For more information on R U OK? Day or the research released this week, go to www.ruokday.org.au

For practical resources on talking about suicide, go to www.conversationsmatter.com.au


Services you can talk to today and everyday: