Where to start?
As we approach R U OK Day this coming September 9th, there are a few things to consider before asking your friend, family member or college "R U OK?”
First, it is important to appreciate that meaningful conversations are the core of facilitating a wellbeing check-in with someone. It needs to come from an authentic place of genuine care and consideration of one’s welfare.
You don't need all the answers, It's okay to just listen.
Think about the timing, the best place or location and the approach you will take when you reach out to see that they are doing OK. Choose a general question to start such as ‘How are they going?’ or ‘’How are things?” and make them feel comfortable to just take their time in sharing how they are feeling with you.
It is of critical importance that you are in the right frame of mind to listen attentively to what they share. So, make sure you schedule the check-in at a good time for yourself as well so that you are 'in the moment' as you engage in the conversation. Be present in the conversation, limit any potential distractions (being disturbed, having your phone ring, etc.). It is often best to schedule the check-in off-site and in an environment that is quiet but familiar. Getting out into nature by facilitating the conversation during a walk can create a great opportunity to have a genuine conversation.
When listening, be clear in your own mind that you are not there to solve the problem but rather to demonstrate empathy and then, in time, to collectively explore ideas that can assist going forward. Always be careful to not provide premature advice (e.g. everything will be fine or you will be OK) but rather to just listen and support in the first instance. And be sure to schedule enough time for the check-in so that you do not need to abruptly cut off the conversation because you are running out of time.
It can be difficult to know how to best direct the conversation if you are not expecting certain aspects to be shared or perhaps the intensity of emotion was not anticipated. Be prepared that this may uncover some strong thoughts and emotions, or oppositely, they may simply not be willing to share at all. In the event that the person is struggling with their wellbeing, let them know that there is support in place and in time, the right support can be put with them to assist going forward.
Take this coming R U OK Day as an opportunity to reach out to someone you haven’t connected with for a while, because a conversation could change a life.
Resources & Support
In the event that you or someone you know needs some more acute support please use these free organisations available, they are here to help!