10 September 2020, marks a very important day in our calendar – R U OK?Day. And, while it’s a day for us all to remember that a simple conversation could change a life, this year it’s also about making these conversations part of our everyday routines, to remember every day to support people around us who may be struggling where we can.
With the unprecedented year we’ve had so far, staying connected and checking in on your loved ones, work colleagues and neighbours – and yourself! – has never been more important.
So, on this very meaningful day, we want to take the opportunity to encourage everyone to be aware of how you, and those around you, are feeling. Start an R U OK? Conversation and don’t forget to follow up and check in regularly. Make it part of your daily routine – not just on R U OK?Day, but every day. And if you’re looking for extra resources and information to help you, keep reading – and don’t forget to visit the official R U OK? Website.
THERE’S MORE TO SAY AFTER R U OK?
This year, the message for R U OK?Day is not just that a conversation can change a life but that ‘There’s more to say after R U OK?’ – encouraging all Australians to learn what to say if someone in their life says they are ‘not okay’.
R U OK? CEO, Katherine Newton, says 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone and circumstances have made it even more important for us all to stay connected and, for those who are able to, support those around us.
“Time is one of the most valuable things we can share with the people that we care about.
When someone in your life is struggling it’s natural to ask them if they’re OK but it can sometimes be difficult to know what to say next.
Our free resources include a conversation guide to help people learn what to say after ‘Are you OK?’ and help break down any fears or concerns someone might be feeling when approaching a meaningful conversation with a family member, friend or colleague who might be doing it tough.
You don’t have to be an expert to keep the conversation going and if you familiarise yourself with what to say after hearing ‘No, I’m not OK’ you can show genuine intent and genuinely help someone access appropriate support long before they’re in crisis,” says Katherine Newton.
MAKE CONNECTING WITH OTHERS PART OF YOUR DAILY ROUTINE
One thing the team at R U OK? want to encourage is creating a regular routine of staying connected with each other. Life might not be the same as it was before and we may be further apart physically than before, but there is always something we can do and that is look out for each other – we can stay connected.
“Social connection is critical,” says Katherine Newton.
“We want those who are well and able to make it part of their daily routine. In the morning, think about who in your world might be struggling and make a plan to reach out to them and ask, ‘Are you okay?’.
That simple question and a conversation has the power to change someone’s life for the better.”
TIPS ON HOW TO STAY CONNECTED
1 | CREATE A LIST:
Think about who in your world, personal or professional, near or far, might be struggling.
2 | DEDICATE THE TIME:
Make ‘time to ask’ part of your daily routine.
3 | CHOOSE YOUR CHANNEL:
Communicate in way that works for you both: make a phone call, send an SMS, video call, email or, if you can meet safely in-person you might want to chat over the fence, go for a walk together or catch up for a cuppa.
“We can all make a difference in the lives of those who might be struggling by having regular, meaningful conversations about life ‘s ups and downs.
If you feel like something’s not quite the same with someone you know – there’s something going on in their life or you notice a change in what they’re doing or saying – trust that gut instinct and take the time to ask them ‘Are you OK?’
By acting as ‘eyes and ears’ and reaching out to anyone who’s going through a tough time, we can show them they’re supported and encourage them to access help sooner,” says Katherine Newton.
To keep this message alive every day, not just RU OK?Day, check out the incredible resources for individuals, families and also businesses at https://www.ruok.org.au/every-day-resources
FREE KIKKI.K RESOURCES
This year, we want to help you to stay connected every day, so we’ve created a daily To Do List template for you to download and print out, with some prompts to remind you to check in with yourself and those you love, every day.
Last year, you may also remember, we created some gorgeous conversation starters for you to download and print out, to help you to start these important conversations, Remember, you don’t need to be an expert to reach out – just a good friend and a great listener.
BEFORE YOU ASK IF SOMEONE ELSE IS OKAY
To help you decide whether you’re ready to start a meaningful conversation, R U OK? have put together a helpful guide.
Before you can look out for others, you need to look out for yourself. And that’s ok. If you’re not in the right headspace or you don’t think you’re the right person to have the conversation, try to think of someone else in their support network who could talk to them.
If you feel you’re ready to open up a conversation and give someone the opportunity and time to share how they’re feeling, the team at R U OK? suggest using these four steps below:
LEARN WHAT TO SAY AFTER R U OK?
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
• Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation.
• Don’t judge their experiences or reactions but acknowledge that 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 that 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 2 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.
SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER
• If the person doesn’t want to talk, don’t criticise them.
• Tell them you’re still concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them.
• Avoid confrontation.
• You could say: “Please call me if you ever want to chat” or “Is there someone else you’d rather talk to?”
SEEKING EXPERT HELP
Some conversations are too big for family and friends to take on alone. If you’re worried about someone, or you, yourself, feel you are in need of urgent professional support, contact your local doctor or the agencies listed on the R U OK? website.
Remember, there’s nothing like the warmth we get from human connection, so today and every day, take the time to check in with each other – after all, a simple conversation could change a life.
“It’s important we all do what we can to support our friends, family and colleagues to manage the ups and downs that life is throwing at us.”
“We accept there are things people can’t do but let’s focus on what we can do. We can make every day the day to ask ‘Are you okay?’. We can be a listening ear and a (virtual) shoulder to lean on,” says Katherine Newton.
“Let’s make time to look out for one another, be kind and #StayConnected.”
If you need guidance on how to support someone, visit ruok.org.au
If you need support or know someone who does, visit ruok.org.au/findhelp for professional support services and self-care tools.
Join the R U OK?Day Conversation and share this important message with #RUOKDay