A conversation could change a life. Social media can be very deceiving, it’s always good to check in with a friend, family member, colleague, neighbour and so on.. to see how they really are.
Life is tough on everyone in all different ways, and we often have no idea what people are going through day to day.
Society creates a stigma that it’s weak to speak about mental health issues. That’s untrue!
I’ve met some of the worlds greatest achievers, entrepreneurs and sports personalities who have opened up about mental health struggles.
It does NOT define you & can be overcome.
Make sure you ask the question R U OK? frequently and most importantly always be kind to others.
Some tips from https://www.ruok.org.au/how-to-ask
- 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?”
- LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGEMENT
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.
- 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.
NEED EXPERT HELP
Some conversations are too big for family and friends to take on alone. If someone’s been really low for more than 2 weeks – or is at risk – please contact a professional as soon as you can.
- 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.
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Jessica Hickman is a professional member of these associations: