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Today is R U Ok? Day and I thought I’d share with you a little story about me.

I’ve never suffered from depression. If I have a bad day, it’s just that. A bad day. I have a cry, sleep it off and I’m right as rain the next day. This doesn’t mean I won’t ever have depression. If my family history is anything to go by I’m in for a real treat once I hit 40 but thus far in my life, I’ve been (as far as I can tell) completely untouched by the black cloud. For someone like me, it’s difficult to understand depression. I know lots of people who have suffered and do suffer from depression and I often feel quite useless when I try to help because I really don’t know what to say.  When my agent contacted me this week and asked me if I wanted to help out and write a post about R U Ok Day, I’ll admit, I was hesitant. I never write about mental illness because it’s an area that I’m so unfamiliar with. I don’t know the correct terminology, what words I’m supposed to use, what words are triggering. So I generally avoid it.

I then realised that’s half the problem. When people who are okay, don’t know how to ask other people if they’re okay, it’s a waste of a valuable set of ears. I found this guide on the R U OK? website and I found it really helpful, so I wanted to share it with you.

How To Ask R U OK?

1. Ask R U OK?

Start a general conversation; preferably somewhere private
Break the ice with a joke
Build trust through good eye contact, open and relaxed body language
Ask open–ended questions

‘What’s been happening? How are you going?’
‘I’ve noticed that… What’s going on for you at the moment?’
‘You don’t seem like yourself and I’m wondering are you ok? Is there anything that’s contributing?’

2. Listen without judgement

Guide the conversation with caring questions and give them time to reply
Don’t rush to solve problems for them
Help them understand that solutions are available when they’re ready to start exploring these

‘How has that made you feel?’
‘How long have you felt this way?’
‘What do you think caused this reaction?’

3. Encourage action

Summarise the issues and ask them what they plan to do
Encourage them to take one step, such as see their doctor
If they’re unsure about where to go to for help, help them to contact a local doctor or the Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

‘What do you think might help your situation?’
‘Have you considered making an appointment with your doctor?’
‘Would you like me to make an appointment or come with you?’

4. Follow up

Put a note in your diary to call them in one week. If they’re desperate, follow up sooner
Ask if they’ve managed to take that first step and see someone
If they didn’t find this experience helpful, urge them to try a different professional because there’s someone out there who can help them

‘How are things going? Did you speak with your doctor?’
‘What did they suggest? What did you think of their advice?’
‘You’ve had a busy time. Would you like me to make the appointment?’

A simple cup of coffee and half an hour of your time might be just what someone near you is needing today.

Homework:

This is the best post I’ve ever read about depression.

 

 

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Image from Hyperbole and a Half.

This post is not sponsored, I just thought it was an important thing to write about.