Kate Taylor in Rundle Mall spreading the RUOK message in Adelaide
“Nothing dims the light that shines from within you” Maya Angelou
“RUOK Day is every day of the year was the theme this year for RUOK Day that we celebrated in workplaces, schools and community groups across the country. I was proud to represent RUOK charity in Adelaide as this is where I was born and where I grew up. I got to speak with three workplaces – Allianz Insurance, Australia Fashion Labels & Flinders University.
In each talk I got to share three main points:
My journey with mental health and how to share my story
How to have the conversation with someone who isn’t ok – 4 steps
Wellness and Self-care in the workplace or university
I have met many amazing people through being a community ambassador for RUOK Charity and one thing I got feedback on was how helpful the 4 steps were in asking if someone is ok. This method is so practical and helpful to use when helping someone in your world who is having a hard time or even for checking in with yourself when you are not doing well and need to reach out to others in your world for support. I will share the 4 steps with you now.
Ask – RUOK? Find a time and place to ask the person in your own way are you ok? even mention you noticed they have not been themselves lately e.g. “I noticed you have been less chatty than usual, how are you going?”
Listen without judgement
Take what they say to you seriously, don’t interrupt or rush the conversation.
Ask them open questions like “how do you feel about that?” “how long have you felt that way?” Show that you have listened by checking they have understood.
Try and do it in a way that shows you’ve listened to all the details and are really trying to understand what they are going through. “It sounds like your juggling a few things now and you are feeling really stretched”
If they get angry or upset stay calm and don’t take it personally. Let them know you’re asking because you care and acknowledge the times seem tough for them.
Help them think about one or two things that can be done to better manage the situation. It might even be they take some time out for themselves or doing something fun or relaxing.
“Ask what I can do to help you get through this?” “how would you like me to support you?”.
If necessary, encourage them to see a doctor or other professional. This is particularly important if they have been struggling and down for many weeks.
Offer to help them find the right person for them to talk too. Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times, but understand it make take a bit of time to find the right one. You can also find all sorts of tips here: org.au/find-help
Check In – Follow up
Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks and if they are really struggling to follow up sooner – listen to your intuition on this to guide you on how often you need to connect with them. I often find that a person pops in my mind when I need to check in with them.
Say something like “I’ve been thinking about you and wanted to know how you are doing since we last spoke?”
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.
Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.
The reality is every 8 minutes in Australia there is someone attempting Suicide and 8 deaths a day. This equates to over 3,300 people a year. I was shocked that the statistics were so high, and it makes me even more passionate about being a RUOK Community Ambassador.
RUOK charity promotes the fact that we all have a role to play in helping a friend, colleague or family member struggling with mental health. We don’t need to be qualified doctors or psychologists to show support and help someone struggling with mental health.
Remember -No season in life is forever, you or someone you know might be going through a season of winter, but remember spring is coming.
I hope this provides some practical ways you can reach out to people in your world struggling with mental health.
Remember a conversation can change someone’s life!
More info go to www.ruok.org.au