R U Ok day is more than just about suicide prevention. It is about taking the time out to find out how our family and friends are doing, taking the time to connect with one another and reflect on our well-being. Well-being of not just others, but also ourselves.
But how do we go about doing it? Is there a right way? Are we saying the right things?
- You: The first thing to ask yourself is whether you are ready to hear “No” as an answer to that question. Are you willing and in the right mindset to be there unconditionally for that person? It is ok if you don’t think you are the right person or might not have the coping skills to manage it. Like we hear on airplanes, it is important to put on your own mask before helping someone else. Maybe we can find someone else in our network to check in or find a suitable time to be there for them. Sometimes, simply knowing you are there for them helps.
- Asking the question: This is the easier part- being genuine in asking them how they are doing and what has been happening is enough. Mentioning any changes you might have noticed in them can prompt them to share more than a superficial “I’m good”.
- Listen: Just be a non-judgemental ear. It is not about solving their problem or telling them “It’s normal” (unless they ask for it). Let them talk about their feelings, no matter how irrational it may sound to you. That is their truth and the validation that someone can listen without judging is sometimes all we need.
- Help: We are more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. Sometimes asking them the person if they have been through something similar and reminding them of how they got through it, reminds them of their strengths. Encourage them to seek help and reduce stigma of professional help through examples of personal experience.
- Continued care: Continuing to help them through the recovery process and continuing to check up on them reminds people of their support network. It reminds them that they don’t have to do it alone.
As Ellen Degeneres says, Be kind to one another!