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What to say after R U OK?

5-minute read

It’s R U OK?Day and, this year, the Australian suicide prevention charity is encouraging us all to learn what to say when someone says they’re not.

Are you okay?

With these three seemingly simple words, we each have the power to spark a conversation that may just change a life.

And, in a year that’s proving to be among the most personally and professionally challenging in recent memory, there really is no time like the present to ask: R U OK?

R U OK?Day

Since 2009, R U OK?Day has helped Australians understand the importance of checking in on those around them who may be struggling with life’s ups and downs.

A national day of action, it reminds us that every day is the day to ask: R U OK?

This year, R U OK? – the Australian suicide prevention charity behind the annual event – is asking us all to learn what to say when someone says they’re not.

“Time is one of the most valuable things we can share with the people that we care about,” says Katherine Newton, CEO at R U OK.

“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.”

You don’t have to be an expert to keep the conversation going, says Katherine.

Katherine Newton, CEO at R U OK?
“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.”

R U OK? at nbn

Australians across the nation, including in workplaces, schools and community groups, are encouraged to get involved – on R U OK?Day and every day.

At nbn, employees can tune in to a dedicated webinar this R U OK?Day, which focuses on creating and maintaining wellbeing through connection with others.

“Staying connected with each other has always been important but staying connected while we’re physically apart has never been more vital,” says Peter Clements, Executive General Manager for Health, Safety, Environment and Facilities at nbn.

“As different parts of Australia are under varied levels of COVID-19 related restrictions, and our people continue their work under altered circumstances whether they are in the field, in the office or at home, maintaining regular human connection will be crucial to our wellbeing as we navigate these difficult and uncertain times.”

The webinar will also help nbn employees to recognise signs of mental deterioration and mental illness, and how to have a conversation with someone they may be concerned about.

“This year’s theme, ‘There’s more to say after R U OK?’, reminds us all of the importance of staying connected,” says Peter, “with our co-workers, our friends and our family during what has been a challenging year for so many of us.”

Staying connected

In years gone by, it was harder to keep in touch with loved ones living further afield. Fortunately, it’s now made easier with the help of connectivity.

Yet, for many people, they can still feel isolated due to the lack of face-to-face interactions.

“Touch is such a rich source of affirmation, security, safety and being seen for a lot of us,” psychologist Sabina Read told Beyond Blue. “But there are other ways to manifest and nurture that without physical touch in light of the crisis that we’re in.”

Just some of the ways you can stay connected – and check in with family and friends – include:

  • making one-on-one or group video calls using technology such as Zoom, Skype and FaceTime
  • scheduling your regular social catch ups online, like book clubs, trivia nights and family dinners
  • a simple phone call

“We under-estimate sometimes the comfort that phone contact can bring, you can still feel a sense of connection and closeness even if it’s not face-to-face,” says Sabina.

And it may help to look at it this way.

“Think of this time not as social distancing but as physical distancing. We may be physically apart but we need to stay socially and emotionally connected,” says Beyond Blue.

Some resources that may help during this time include:

Tips for staying safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic, eSafety Commissioner

Coping with isolation and being at home, Beyond Blue

There’s more to say after ‘R U OK?’

R U OK’s Katherine echoes Peter’s sentiment about 2020: it’s been a challenging year for everyone, and circumstances have made it even more important for us all to stay connected.

And, says Katherine, it’s even more important – for those who are able – to be willing to support those around us.

According to recent data from R U OK?, Australians increasingly understand how important it is to reach out to those who might be struggling.

Yet, 31 per cent of Australians lack confidence or are unsure how to have a conversation with someone who is not OK.

To help support the kinds of meaningful conversations that could change a life, R U OK? suggests these simple steps:

  1. Ask
  2. Listen
  3. Encourage action
  4. Check in

Coinciding with World Suicide Prevention Day this year, R U OK?Day will also help raise awareness of the scale of suicide globally, and the important role we can each play in prevention efforts.

So, do you know what to say after ‘R U OK?’

Find help

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please seek assistance by contacting your trusted healthcare professional or calling Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you are concerned for your safety or the safety of others, seek immediate assistance by calling Triple Zero (000).

If you need immediate support:

13 11 14

Call 24/7 for crisis support and suicide prevention services.

Visit Lifeline's website

1300 22 4636

Call 24/7 for advice, referral and support from a trained mental health professional.

Visit Beyond Blue's website

1300 659 467

24/7 free counselling and support for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved.

Visit Suicide Call Back Service's website

1300 78 99 78

24/7 telephone and online support for men with emotional health and relationship concerns

Visit MensLine Australia's website

1800 55 1800

24/7 private and confidential phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25

Visit Kids Helpline's website

1800 737 732

24/7 counselling, information and referrals for sexual assault, domestic and family violence

Visit 1800RESPECT's website

1800 011 046

24/7 support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families

Visit OpenArms' website

1800 858 858

Free, confidential 24/7 telephone help service for anyone affected by gambling

Visit Gambling Help Online's website

A free, virtual peer support service that proving non-clinical, peer-based mental health support.

Visit eFriend's website

Reproduced with permission from R U OK?

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