R U OK? Day is an annual day in September (today, 10/9) dedicated to remind people to ask family, friends and colleagues the question, "R U OK?", in a meaningful way, because connecting regularly and meaningfully is one thing everyone can do to make a difference and even save lives.
We do this every year and have raised $19007 towards their cause. I don't think there has a been a more difficult year than 2020 in recent times. I'm sure I am not alone in having numerous conversations over the past few months checking on the well-being of others (and on myself) in a meaningful way.
Hot Tip: Medicare provides free (or subsidised) sessions with a psychologist after a referral from a GP. It's free/cheap so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Most mental health issues are very much treatable with professional help. Trouble is that most of us are too scared, embarrassed, or lack self awareness to seek professional help. If you have a broken foot, most people will have no hesitation in seeking a doctor because we know it can be fixed but for mental health issues (which can be just as well treated) we quietly carry on even though the pain and harm may be 1000 times worse. (credit: Bluberry)
The comments and PMs we received last year are part of why we are proud to support R U OK? Day by changing our colours and promoting their cause.
One of the biggest challenges to OzBargain and other online social media sites (e.g. Instagram, Twitter) is promoting an environment where everyone feels comfortable commenting and discussing issues (or deals). We should all recognise that our comments have consequences both positive and negative. People don't participate on a discussion site to be attacked or bullied. While some people may say 'suck it up' and that people should not be so sensitive, we should be aware that we don't truly know the people behind these accounts. Some are young, some may come to here to escape a tough reality, be mentally unbalanced, or they possibly could have thick skin. We just don't know.
On the flip side, a simple gesture such as thanking someone or sending a friendly PM can go a long way. We made a post about contributing to a more positive OzBargain environment and we've had some great results changing some users behaviour by thinking about the impacts of their words.
Over the years of running this initiative on OzBargain (and offline) we've also received some comments making jokes about RUOK? Day. While those people may be OK, many times they are not both in real life and on OzBargain. Keep asking, be meaningful in the way you have your conversation and don't ask just today but any day.
You can also feel free to chat with us in the private Talk with a Moderator forum if you have any OzBargain related issues. Or send me a PM about whatever you want (except moderation issues). Please see our Mental Health Page if you need to speak to someone including live chat.
For confidential advice and support call a crisis support line – such as Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
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?"
- If they don’t want to talk, don’t criticise them.
- Tell them you’re still concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them.
- Avoid a confrontation.
- You could say: “Please call me if you ever want to chat” or “Is there someone else you’d rather talk to?”
LISTEN WITH AN OPEN MIND
- 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.
- 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.
IF THEY 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.
- 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.