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This Thursday is RUOK Day and we want you to take a minute to consider whether someone you know might be struggling. Sometimes we get a gut instinct that something isn’t quite right with a friend, loved one or colleague.

Don’t stay silent.

Reach out and ask them if they’re okay. RUOK have shared a video that explains it best.

As carers our lives can become all about the people we support and sometimes we can develop a mental health illness ourselves. When this occurs we can tend to lose interest in things that we would normally enjoy. Our usual happy demeanor may slip and we could find ourselves withdrawing from our normal activities.

However, it might be you that’s noticing changes in your friend’s behaviour – suddenly your reliable gym buddy doesn’t show up on the usual day, or the person who calls you religiously to chat about life, just stops calling. These might be signs that your friend is struggling.

If you’re worried, we would encourage you to  call your friend and see how they’re going. That one gesture of kindness could make all the difference for someone who is suffering in silence.

As the RUOK website notes, “By starting a conversation and commenting on the changes you’ve noticed, you could help that family member, friend or workmate open up. If they say they are not ok, you can follow our conversation steps to show them they’re supported and help them find strategies to better manage the load. If they are ok, that person will know you’re someone who cares enough to ask”.

If you’re not sure how to ask someone if they’re okay, the RUOK website has a wealth of tips and information you can follow, but we’ve outlined it very briefly for you:

1. Ask RUOK?

Be relaxed and friendly in your approach. You can start with “how are you going?’ or “what’s been happening?” If you receive push back from them, don’t criticise them. Let them know that you’ve been concerned about a change in their behaviour, that you care about them and you could say “please call me if you need to chat”.

2. Listen without judgment

Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt them. Acknowledge that things are tough for them and don’t judge them. If they need time to think, sit patiently with them.

3. Encourage action

Ask them “what have you done in the past with similar situations?” or “how would you like me to support you?”. If they’ve been feeling down for more than two weeks, encourage them to see a professional.

4. Check-in

Put a reminder in your calendar to call them in a couple of weeks.  You could say “I’ve been thinking of you and wanted to know how you’ve been going since we last chatted.”

Reaching out to somebody could be that life changing conversation that they need. For more information, head to the RUOK website.

If you have any questions about this article or need someone to talk to, you can call Arafmi any time of the day on 07 3254 1881. It’s comforting to know that when you need to talk – someone who understands will be there – at any hour.

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