RUOK Day || What can we do?
This day comes around once a year in our calendar. #RUOKDAY. There is no doubt that this day has done so much to bring awareness to suicide prevention and to help reduce the stigma of mental illnesses. But let’s try to get everyone asking these kind of questions everyday! SO many people with mental health issues experience shame and embarrassment in asking for help, and getting asked these three words can help to open up a conversation that would’ve been so difficult to start otherwise. So how can you do more to spend the message of RUOK Day, in our everyday lives?
I think a lot of people are even afraid to ask a friend, family member, or loved one if they are okay, for fear of not knowing what to do if said person does happen to need some help! But this really doesn’t have to be a big scary conversation! Often those who are struggling are just looking for someone to care, to listen, and to be there for them. Just asking the question alone is already doing so much because it is showing that you care! Which is arguably the most important part of this dialogue.
Now, what to do if someone isn’t okay.
Listen. Often we, as human beings, just want to be heard. We want to be understood. If someone is struggling this basic human need is no different, they just need someone to open their heart and their ears and listen.
Ask what they need. When a person is going through a hard time, they might not want to be given advice. This is why it is so, so important to ask what your loved one needs. They will tell if they want some advice on the situation, if they want a hug, or if they just need to vent. And ultimately your role in this conversation is to respect their wishes and do what will help them.
Encourage some action to take place. They are a number of question that you could ask to get your friend/loved one to make some moves towards feeling better. You could try an of the following: “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”, “What’s something you can do for yourself right now?”, “What is something you find relaxing, or you love doing that you could plan to do in the next few days/weeks?”.
Assess the situation. If you think that the person you care about is not in a good place and is at risk to themselves or others, then it becomes more of an issue of how to protect them. In this case you may need to enlist the help of an expert. As an example, you could offer to accompany your friend to the doctors so that they don’t feel alone in the process.
Check in. It’s always important to keep in contact with friends and loved ones, and although sometimes life can get in the way and we can lose touch, it would be a great idea to follow up with them in a few days or weeks to see how they’re doing since you last talked. Maybe you could even put a reminder in your phone so that you make sure you remember to check in and be there for them.
Now just remember, you can do this any day of the year! Please don’t wait until the time of year that RUOK Day comes around to check in with your friends. It is important all year round!
If you or someone you know is struggling there is always someone there to listen and help
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800
Mensline Australia: 1300 78 99 78
Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636
Headspace: 1800 650 890
Headspace E-Chat: https://eheadspace.org.au/