Saturday, August 20, 2011


September 15th is R U OK?Day in Australia.

I know, you're thinking, "What is R U OK?Day and what does Australia have to do with me?" The answer is that it is imperative to check in with your loved ones, be it family or friends, in any country, especially if you have probable cause or a reliable resource that informs you about a loved one being discouraged or depressed, maybe feeling hopeless, thinking that things are not going to get any better; maybe they're weary or tired of the routine. Whatever the case may be, offering to listen may be all that friend/loved one needs to get the encouragement he or she needs. As a writer, I do believe that an exchange of words can change, even save a life. On September 15th, whatever country you're currently residing in, ask your friends/loved ones the question, "R U OK?"

What is R U OK?Day?
Thursday 15 September, 2011

Thursday 15 September, 2011 is R U OK?Day. A national day of action that aims to prevent suicide by encouraging Australians to connect with someone they care about and help stop little problems turning into big ones.

On that day we want everyone across the country, from all backgrounds and walks of life, to ask family, friends and colleagues: "Are you OK?".

Staying connected with others is crucial to our general health and wellbeing. Feeling isolated or hopeless can contribute to depression and other mental illnesses, which can ultimately result in suicide. Regular, meaningful conversations can protect those we know and love.

It's so simple but in the time it takes to have a coffee, you can start a conversation that could change a life.

How to start a R U OK? conversation

Keeping in touch with others is crucial for our health and wellbeing, helping us to cope with stressful events. And having regular, meaningful conversations is simple; you don't need special training to do it. Here are some helpful pointers from Lifeline to help you connect with someone you think may be doing it tough.

Five top tips
Take the lead, show initiative and ask:
"Are you OK?"

Put the invitation out there: "I've got time to talk"

Maintain eye contact and sit in a relaxed position - positive body language will help you both feel more comfortable

Often just spending time with the person lets them know you care and can help you understand what they're going through

Use ice breakers

Use open-ended questions such as "So tell me about...?", which require more than a "yes" or "no" answer

You may also like to use the following questions to start a conversation:

  1. "You know, I've noticed that you've seemed really down/worried/stressed for a long time now. Is there anyone you've been able to talk to about it?"
  2. "Lots of people go through this sort of thing. Getting help will make it easier"
  3. "I hate to see you struggling on your own. There are people that can help. Have you thought of visiting your doctor?"
Practice your listening skills

Listen to what a person is saying, be open minded and non-judgemental - sometimes, when someone wants to talk, they're not always seeking advice, but they just need to talk about their concerns

Be patient - let the person take their time

Avoid telling someone what to do: it is important to listen and try to help the other person work out what is best for them

Be encouraging

Encourage physical health. Maintaining regular exercise, a nutritious diet and getting regular sleep helps people to cope in tough times

Encourage the person to seek professional help from their family doctor, a support service or counsellor, or a mental health worker

Encourage self-care. Sometimes people need to be encouraged to do more to look after their own needs during a difficult time

Be helpful

What not to do when trying to help someone. It is unhelpful to:

  1. Pressure them to "snap out of it", "get their act together" or "cheer up"
  2. Stay away or avoid them
  3. Tell them they just need to stay busy or get out more
  4. Suggest alcohol or drugs
  5. Assume the problem will just go away

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