R U OK? Day is Australia’s National Day of action dedicated to reminding people that we should ask others “Are you OK?” every day.


It isn’t always easy to know whether someone is OK, especially if they don’t talk about it.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, the physical disconnection between ourselves and loved ones makes it particularly harder for us to gauge whether someone may be going through a tough time. Nonetheless, there are some signs that you can still look out that may indicate that a friend or a family member may need your support.


These signs can include the following:

  • Low mood
  • Reduced enjoyment towards life
  • Missing out on school or work activities, and showing less engagement
  • Withdrawing from friends or family
  • Not responding or taking longer than usual to respond to messages
  • Declining invitations to social events
  • A change in their overall conversation style
  • Lashing out at others
  • Mentioning that they’re often tired
  • You’re feeling worried about their safety
  • Their mood may be having an impact on how you behave towards them

Encouraging Support

Sometimes, it can be hard to ask a person about their mental wellbeing. You might not know what to say or how to say it. The person you are reaching out to may not even want to respond to your support or advice. But this doesn’t mean you should ignore them and leave them alone.

Sometimes, it can be hard to ask a person about their mental wellbeing. You might not know what to say or how to say it. The person you are reaching out to may not even want to respond to your support or advice. But this doesn’t mean you should ignore them and leave them alone.

Below are some tips on how to get the conversation started.

  • Before you can support others, remember to check in with yourself too. Ask yourself, are you in a good headspace to genuinely listen? Have you chosen somewhere relatively private and comfortable to chat? Can you provide this person with as much time as they need? Are you emotionally prepared if someone responds with “No, I am not OK”?

Step 1: Ask R U OK?

  • Take a warm and concerned approach.
  • Ask open-ended questions such as “How are you going?”, “What’s been on your mind?
  • Mention specific things that have made you concerned about them e.g. “I noticed that you haven’t been yourself and I’m worried. What’s been happening lately?
  • If the other person does not want to talk, respond with understanding, and avoid any criticisms. Let them know that you are available to talk if they need support.

Step 2: Listen with an open mind

  • Listen to the other person without interruptions and rush. Acknowledge that what they are experiencing seems tough for them.
  • Encourage the other person to speak more about the issue by asking more questions “How long have you felt this way?
  • Avoid criticisms and immediately suggesting ways to solve their problems. It is important to understand that we cannot “fix” other people’s problems. What is helpful, however, is being able to sit with them and listen with an open mind without judgement.

Step 3: Encourage Actions

  • Gauge whether they have been through a similar experience in the past. If they have, it may be worth asking how they previously managed.
  • Ask the other person “How would you like me to support you?
  • To help the other person support themselves, it may be worth asking “What is something you can do right now that’s enjoyable or will help you relax?
  • If they have been distressed or low for more than several weeks, gently encourage them to see a health professional, “It might be useful to speak to a professional to support you through this. I’d be happy to help you find the right person to talk to”. Be positive and remain non-judgmental when discussing the idea of seeking professional help.

Step 4:  Check in

  • Remember to check in with the other person sporadically. If you sense that they are really struggling, catch up with them sooner.
  • Ask if they have found additional supports to help their situation. If they have chosen not to do anything, don’t judge them. Sometimes, they might just need someone to listen to them.
  • Stay in touch and continue to show genuine care.

 

Self-check in

After initiating a meaningful conversation with someone if ask if they’re feeling OK, you might be required to seek support for them or even yourself. Below are some contacts to services that may help. Family and friends can call upon these telephone services for advice and assistance on how to support someone who is struggling with life.

  • If you are concerned for your safety or the safety of others, seek immediate assistance by calling Triple Zero (000).
  • Lifeline – 13 11 14: 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services
  • Beyond Blue— 1300 22 4636: 24/7 advice, referral and support from a trained mental health professional.
  • Kids Helpline—1800 55 1800: 24/7 counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.

Our warm and non-judgmental psychologists at Mind Matters are also available to support you through tough times. Speak to your GP and/or reach out to our clinic to find out about the ways we can support you or a loved one. 

Read more about R U OK? Day at ruok.org.au

Keep reading about Mental Health Stress Support
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