Thursday, September 08 was R U OK?Day.
It’s the national day of action when Australians are reminded that every day is the day to ask, ‘are you OK?’ and start a meaningful conversation whenever they spot the signs that someone they care about might be struggling with life.
Today I wanted to shed some light on
1. How you can attempt to start a meaningful conversation
2. Some resources if they respond "No"
I want to preface that I am by no means a psychologist of any sort.
This topic is really close to my heart as my big sister underwent some major mental shifts and diagnoses which when I look back on I just wasn't equipped to handle.
A mentor helped me by saying "You did all that I could with the tools you had at the time"
This led me down a path of wanting to have more tools under my belt, so in 2020 took part in the Mental Health First Aid run by Rise Foundation Australia
Today I want to share the formula learned - S. A. F. E
1. SPEAK UP IF YOU SEE CHANGES
- If something seems different to you Speak up.
Has their mood changed, is their appearance a little disheveled, are they acting differently
- Place. A quiet neutral ground works to make it feel less confronting.
- Time. Make sure there is some time to discuss if they need to, don't ask as they walk out the door for work.
- Approach. Ask from a place of concern, not judgment
- Make it comfortable. Make it seem like just any other conversation
- Emotional and Practical Support. Have tools on hand to help whatever they respond with
2. ASK OPEN QUESTIONS
- Language. Come from a place of comfort.
- Clarifying Questions. Give them a chance to tell their side of the situation.
- Body Language Keep an eye out for what their body is telling you, if they say they are fine but looking down at the ground and not making eye contact, red flag.
- Confidentiality Be sure that they know you are there for them
- Asking about suicide. We need to make it less taboo to talk about. We also need to get used to actually asking this out aloud ourselves. Practice in a mirror
3. FACTUAL RESPONSES
- We don't have all the answers. Let's not pretend that we do and arm ourselves with tools of support
- Don't Lie We don't need to make up stories or pretend we may know how that person is feeling.
- Use your relationship If you are even bringing this up in conversation it's because you have a relationship with this person, you have noticed changes and you want to offer help.
- Use your story Elaborate on what you have noticed and tell them you are concerned
- Two ears, one mouth. Listen intently and speak to ask further questions to delve a little deeper.
-Don't Over Promise By all means offer what you can, but keep it within something that is sustainable for you both
4. ENCOURAGE HELP THAT WORKS
- What has worked in the past - this may not be the first instance of this occuring
- We can't force - The other person may not want or be ready to accept help at this time
- Check back in - Make it a constant conversation
- If resistant, why? It may be that they actually do want some help but other factors may be in play.
HOW TO CALMLY ASK FROM A PLACE OF CONCERN
"Hey Mate what's happening...
I've noticed you haven't been yourself...
What's going on...?
Do you need anything?
These simple and effective open-ended questions allow you to ask them to respond as much or as little as they wish to.
NATIONAL 24HR CRISIS SERVICES Lifeline: 13 11 14 Lifeline text: 0477 131 114 (6pm - midnight) Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636 Suicide Callback Service: 1300 659 467 Mens Help Line: 1300 789 978 Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800
Mental Health Matters!
I hope this serves you to feel confident in asking questions or simply finding some support if you are having a rough time yourself.
Sometimes it can feel like you've been buried, BUT what if you have merely been planted?
Let's start a conversation today and every day.
Know that Jungle Brothers Botany is a registered safe space organization if anyone wants a tribe or merely needs a chat. Listen to the podcast as the JB boys chat with the founder of the Rise Foundation Ben Higgs.
You can't hug a memory!
"We don't stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing" George Bernard Shaw