Today is R U OK? Day, a national campaign designed to empower people to meaningfully connect with others around them. It’s also about inspiring people to start a conversation with anyone who might be struggling. If you suspect someone you know might need a bit of support, here’s advice from the experts about how to reach out.
The team at R U OK? Day break down the approach in four steps; ask, listen, encourage action, check in. Check out their website for a more in-depth look at each stage of the process.
Step 1: Ask
When you start the conversation, you can help your loved one to open up by asking questions like “How are you going?” or “What’s been happening?” Mentioning specific things that have made you concerned for them, like “You seem less chatty than usual” can be a good way to prompt the conversation.
Step 2: Listen
Always without judgement. Patience is also important here, so make sure you don’t interrupt or rush the conversation. The team at R U OK? also suggest showing you’ve listened by repeating back what you’ve heard in your own words. Encourage them to continue the discussion with questions like; “How long have you felt that way?” and “How are you feeling about that?”
Step 3: Encourage action
This stage is all about encouraging them to stake the next step to address the issues they’re facing. The following questions are suggested:
“What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”
“How would you like me to support you?”
“What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”
A good approach is to empathise and say something like:
“When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this… You might find it useful too.”
If the problem seems bigger than you can handle, you can find information here about how to find professional help.
Step 4: Check in
Remind yourself to stay in touch and reach out again a couple of weeks after your conversation – or sooner if you think they need it. Make enquiries about whether they have found a way to manage the situation and if they haven’t, don’t judge them. The act of staying in touch and showing concern might be all they need.
Recognising the signs of depression in your ageing loved ones
Approaching your ageing loved ones can be additionally challenging, given stigmas that have existing within older generations about mental health. Our blog on what the experts say about tackling depression in older Australians provides a list of possible warning signs as well as approaches to starting the conversation.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that men over the age of 85 have the highest suicide rate in Australia. Loneliness, experiences of loss and major life changes all have a profound impact on people who are ageing. Establishing community connections for older people can have a huge impact on promoting mental wellbeing.
Find support within your community
Mable is an easy and safe online platform for people to connect with care and support in their local community. Our online community of independent support workers is comprised of experienced aged care and disability support workers, nurses and every day people looking to provide companionship and domestic support to people in their neighbourhood.
Maria, an independent support worker offering her services directly to clients via Mable, signed up while she was finalising her Masters in Counselling and Psychotherapy. She provides clients with social and domestic support, applying practical skills developed in her studies when supporting clients.
“There are so many little things you can do to support your clients; for me, I like to practice mindfulness and grounding exercises when clients feel overwhelmed. Anything from going for a walk in the fresh air, and observing the world around us. If we go out for a meal, we discuss what flavours we’re tasting. When I’m working with clients, I try to encourage them to be as present as possible.”
If someone you love is in need of a little support, or just some companionship, search the profiles of independent support workers in your area to see who’s available.