R U OK?
A question that is the world’s most simple, yet so difficult – but let’s outgrow the stigma and create these conversations every day. R U OK?
With September 10 marking World Suicide Prevention Day, and R U OK? Day lining up September 12, this question highlights mental health, but for 24- 48 hours only.
What about the rest of the year? Mental health is a topic that’s been gaining more and more traction nationally and globally, but are we still doing enough? With suicide being one of the major causes of death among Australians aged between 15-44 years old, it’s important to constantly check on the people around us.
Unfortunately, a simple “are you okay” is most significant around this day only. It can be difficult to spot when someone is suffering from mental health issues, but it doesn’t mean someone really close to you isn’t.
It’s our role as daughters, sons, siblings, friends, and humans to do the bare minimum and ask these important questions every day. Although prevention days are super important as they create awareness and remind us to be on top of it, we’ve gotta make sure we don’t just increase our action on this one day.
Asking “are you okay” to someone struggling can be daunting, and difficult to deal with when you aren’t really equipped to support someone should they say “no”. But we’ve got you – here are some ways to get the conversation going with your mates, even when you’re a bit stressed about it.
Be Genuine About It
Without reason, simply asking an individual “are you okay” is a great way to start a convo, but that also means it might not be super genuine or actually open to emotions.
The phrase has been pretty overused, to the point where it’s really more of an expectation to just ask someone if they’re okay. “Are you okay” has more so become the “hello” of our mornings, and this is where putting in the effort and empathy to go beyond means much more.
Going the next step can simply mean being more open with people. Lose the opinions, the judgements and give a person a hug for goodness sake.
Stop talking about yourself for a second and sit down and listen to a friend. Create a comfortable atmosphere and have more deep and meaningful conversations with peeps. It’s as simple as going to lunch with a mate and asking them how they’re truly feeling. Or allowing a person to know that if there is anything they want to talk about you’re there for them, and respect their decision in whether they chose to open up or not. And then actually be there. Mean it, and create the time to be supportive.
Have Some Fun, Too.
As corny as it sounds, aim to make your mates smile more, have a little laugh, and enjoy the simple things.
If you do know someone going through some struggles, make sure you’re by their side, and don’t make them feel like a burden. Be clear that you’re here for them no matter what, and it’s so not an issue. And on top of that, just be your normal self. Make them feel like they’re not any lesser of who they are even with their personal struggles. We’re all human, we all have problems. Facing them is the first step towards solving them.
Use “are you okay” to create an honest and open conversation with someone. Of course, you can’t solve everyone’s problems, and when it gets super serious your mates might need professional help. But in the mean time, be a good friend. It’s as simple as creating raw, honest and open conversations. We need to make sure our mates can express themselves, as well as their demons, instead of suppressing them. The goal is to simply normalise these conversations instead of awaiting the next national prevention day to ask someone if they’re okay.
We can repost, share, and message our friends, and these are all great as technology allows a vast platform to share stories and struggles. But as young individuals, let’s outsmart ourselves and commit to asking, talking and listening more than joining the bandwagon of Facebook shares.
If you care about your mates, family, whoever it may be in this world, then know it’s important that we’re asking these questions every other 364 days in the year.