How to Ask R U Ok?

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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.


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. 

Carly is the founding editor of Smaggle which launched in 2007 back when blogging was weird. She has appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Cosmopolitan and Cleo magazines. Hoop earrings are totally her thing and she almost got run over by Myf Warhurst while out jogging one day.


  1. Nessbow 3 years ago

    Yeah! As someone who suffers from depression, I did a huge fist-pump when I read this post. When you’re struggling it can be so hard to open up to your friends about it, particularly if your friends seem to be doing well. Giving someone an opening to talk and just a tiny bit of your time can mean the world. Thanks so much for writing this.

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      Thanks love! I’m glad the message came through, was a touch nervous about it. x

  2. Jess 3 years ago

    Some fantastic advice, and i’m saying that as a sufferer. And yes, that link you posted is brilliant! When I opened up to someone about my depression, they sent me that link, and it was the first time i’d felt a slight connection to something in so long. It’s so true!

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      I love how everyone is sharing around tha post. It’s such a great resource.

  3. Erika 3 years ago

    Hyperbole and a half is brilliant. But in my worst periods of depression, I never felt able to talk to anyone, that my problems (that horrible, grey bleakness) deserved anyone’s attention. So yes, have the conversation, just be aware that it can be quite hard.

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      She’s amazing. I miss her posts so much.

  4. Hannargh 3 years ago

    Awwww this was great Smags 🙂

    • Author
      Smaggle 3 years ago

      Thanks love, it’s always difficult to write about something that you aren’t close to. x

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