Today marks R U OK? Day. What started out as a documentary on suicide prevention has become a national campaign and now has its very own day. The founder of R U OK?, Gavin Larkin started working and collaborating with Janina Nearn to create an Australian wide change of behaviour when it comes to the mental care of our family, friends and acquaintances. The goal that is being achieved is a Conversation Movement . This conversation movement is teaching Australian’s skills to be able to talk to one another when they see that someone is not doing ok.  Rather than shying away from an awkward situation or conversation when we see someone is struggling with life, we can gain confidence and skill from what R U OK? offers to teach us.

Asking that simple 3 word question could lead to a conversation that changes someone’s life. Being connected is what people need and when we are disconnected the world can seem a very lonely place. Depression can set in and walls can come up but there are ways out of this isolation. Looking for the signs that someone is not ok can be a little difficult but there are things we can look for. Perhaps the person we are concerned about isn’t acting themselves of late. Maybe they have become withdrawn or are being more agitated than usual. Generally we get a 6th sense that something is not alright though. Following these simple steps can help bring that person out of their shell and lighten the load that they may be carrying.

1. ASK

Being relaxed in your approach and not too serious is often the best way. Being friendly also can help the person feel at ease. Starting with a question like “How have you been feeling of late?” or “What’s been happening?” is an easy going way


Listen, listen, listen.. such an important part. If the person is willing to chat then let them speak. Don’t interrupt them or rush them. If they are slow to answer then silence is fine. Let them think and be patient with them. Once they have shared with you, let them know you have heard what they’ve said by repeating back to them in your own words what you understand about their worries.


Once you have listened to the person it is a good idea to steer the conversation into a chat about what to do next. Ask the person how they have managed past situations and if it worked for them. Discuss how you have handled difficult situations in the past and what worked for you. If the person has been suffering for more than a couple of weeks then the suggestion of professional help in a very positive manner is a great idea. Let that person know you can assist them and support them in finding the right professional person to talk to.

If the person is unwilling but is really low or depressed and has been for a while or is maybe at risk, please contact a professional as soon as possible.


After you have had the conversation with the person it is always good to follow up. Make a note to call them or see them to ask how they are going since you last talked. Don’t leave it too long though. 2 weeks is a good timeframe but sooner than that is better if they have really been struggling. If they haven’t done much to help themselves or found a better way to handle the situation then listen to them again and help come up with a plan of action. Being genuine and showing care can make all the difference.

There is professional help available when we are not equipped to help out a person in need. Here are some contact details of professional organisations that are only a phone call away:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Call 24/7 for crisis support.


Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467

People at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved.

Greif Line: 1300 845 745

Counselling service for people suffering grief.

Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800

Counselling for young people 5 to 25 years of age.