Is someone you know or care about not behaving as they normally would? Maybe they are agitated or withdrawn just not themselves. Trust your instinct and act on it. Start a conversation and comment on the changes you've noticed. By doing this, you could help that family member, friend or schoolmate open up. If they say they're not ok, you can follow the conversation steps below to show them they have your support and help them find strategies to better manage their struggle. If they are ok, that person will know you're someone who cares enough to ask about them. One conversation can change a life.
SIMPLE STEPS THAT COULD CHANGE A LIFE


Getting Ready to Ask
 

Before you can look out for others, you need to look out for yourself. And that's ok. If you're not in the right state of mind or you think you're not the right person to have the conversation, try to think of someone else in their support network who could talk to them. To help you decide whether you're ready to start a meaningful conversation, ask yourself this:

AM I READY?
  • Do I have the right mind set?
  • Am I willing to genuinely listen? 
  • Can I give them enough time?

AM I PREPARED?
  • Do I understand that if I ask how someone's going' the answer could be: "No, I'm not"?
  • Do I understand that you can't 'fix' someone's problems?
  • Do I accept that they might not be ready to talk? Or they might not want to talk to me?
PICKED MY MOMENT
  • Have I chosen somewhere relatively private and comfortable? 
  • Have I figured out a time that will be good for them to talk? 
  • Have I made sure I have enough time to converse properly?
 
How to Ask
1. ASK R U OK?
  • Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach. 
  • Help them open up by asking questions like "How are you doing?" or "What's been happening?"
  • Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like "You seem less talkative than usual"
PUSH BACK
  • If they don't want to talk' don't criticize them. 
  • Tell them you're still concerned about changes in their behavior and you care about them. 
  • Avoid a confrontation.
  • You could say: "Please call me if you ever want to talk" or "Is there someone else you'd rather talk to?"


2. LISTEN WITHOUT JUDGEMENT
  • Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach.
  • Help them open up by asking questions like,
  • "How are you doing?" or "What's been happening?"
  • Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, such as, "You seem less talkative than usual."
  • If they don't want to talk, don't criticize or force them.
  • You could say: "Please call me if you ever want to talk" or "Is there someone else you'd rather talk to?"
  • Tell them you're concerned about changes in their behavior and you care about them.
  • Avoid a confrontation.

3. ENCOURAGE ACTION
  • 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 two 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. 

4. CHECK IN
  • Pop a reminder in your calendar 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 talked."
  • 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. 

Note: The truth is, some conversations just become too big for family and friends. If you're worried about someone and feel urgent professional support is needed, contact your local doctor or a crisis support center. Like you, RU?OK is not equipped to offer crisis intervention or expert counseling and our website is no substitute for the professional care available from the following resources www.ruok.help/resources.

This webpage is courtesy of RUOK Australia