How you can help this RU OK? Day
You don't need to be an expert to ask someone if they're okay. Here are a few tips to guide that conversation.
R U OK day
This Thursday 12 September is RU OK? Day. And while asking ‘Are you okay?’ sounds simple enough, sometimes it can be tough. The good news is, you don’t need to be an expert, just a friendly face and a good listener.
If you or someone you know is not okay, it's important to find help.
In an emergency, contact 000.
Before you ask, “R U OK?” make sure you're:
In a good headspace
Willing to genuinely listen (and have chosen somewhere private to talk with them)
Aware that you won't have all the answers (and that's okay)
Able to give your friends and colleagues as much time as needed to listen to their response
Chances are a person will open up to you because they trust you.
You play an important role in making a person feel validated, but it can be upsetting. Ensure you access your own support if you need it. Make sure you’re realistic about what you’re offering and focus on what you have done (and not what you haven’t or can’t do).
Starting a conversation
Try using these simple steps to start a conversation today.
Ask RU OK?
- Be relaxed
- 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 "I've noticed that you seem really tired recently" or "You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?"
- If they push back or seem reluctant, don’t criticise. Tell them you’re concerned about changes in their behaviour and that you care about them.
Listen without judgement
Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation
- Don’t judge their experience or reactions but acknowledge things are tough for them
- If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence
- Show you’ve listened by repeating back (in your own words) what you’ve heard and ask them if you’ve understood them properly.
Encourage appropriate action
- You could ask: “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?” or “When I was going through a difficult time I tried this … You might find it useful too”
- If they’ve been feeling really down, encourage them to see a health professional or contact the UTS Counselling Service.
- If you’re worried about their safety or anybody else’s, contact UTS Security (dial 6 from a campus phone or 1800 249 559 from any phone) and ask them to contact emergency services.
- If it feels appropriate, consider whether you might want to check in with them down the track
- You could say: “I've been thinking of you and wanted to know how you’ve been going since our last chat?”
- Stay in touch and be there for them – genuine care and concern can make a real difference.
- Hearing someone in distress can be upsetting, so reach out to your personal or professional support networks for your own needs
- Be realistic (you can only do so much) but you play an important role in connecting your cared one with professional support and making sure they’re ok.
WHERE ELSE CAN I FIND HELP?
UTS Counselling Service
Lifeline counselling service: 13 11 14 (24 hours)
Beyondblue support service: 1300 224 636
Headspace: 1800 650 890
MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
UTS Sexual Assault Support Line: 1800 531 626 | Report an incident
This article was adapted from the How to ask staff RU OK? practical guide for the workplace.