Asking the question 'Are You Okay?' seems pretty simple, but what if it's not? What do you do if the answer is 'No'?
Our LIVIN psychologist walks us through how to respond and what to look for to help them get the professional help they need:
Physical changes: These are things you observe in someone’s physical appearance that might indicate they are struggling – Weight loss, weight gain, looking disheveled.
Behavioural changes: These are things you see someone doing that might indicate they are struggling – Crying, social withdrawal, drug use, self-harm.
Verbal cues: These are things somebody might say if they are struggling – "I can’t go on", "I never do anything right", "I have nobody."
Emotional changes: These are the different feelings that someone might be experiencing if they are struggling – Lonely, anxious, frightened, sad, hopeless.
These warning signs and symptoms are great to know, but understanding your mates, colleagues, the people around you is key!
A change from what is normal behaviour for them is often the first sign that they might be struggling.
If you suspect someone is struggling, you have a choice – do something or do nothing. Hopefully you choose to do something. Now this something does not need to be hugely complicated. You do not need to be a doctor, psychologist, neurosurgeon or psychiatrist to help someone. We all have the power to intervene. In fact, you are probably more likely than a mental health professional to know when someone who you care about is struggling.
So, what can you do?
1. Ask – R U OKAY? or 'HOW ARE YOU DOING…HOW ARE YOU REALLY DOING?'
2. Be prepared for the answer to be – I AM NOT DOING SO WELL- and remind yourself to RELAX. Take the pressure off yourself – you don’t need to have all the answers, you don’t need to fix people. You simply need to offer up your support as someone who genuinely cares.
3. Social support - offering your support, by simply being there for someone is one of the most effective ways to help someone return to a healthy level of functioning.
4. Professional support – encourage the person you are concerned about to speak with a professional – a GP/ doctor, a psychologist, a credible professional services organisation like beyondblue, Lifeline or headspace.
5. Self-care is ALWAYS relevant - prioritising self-care (even just 10-15 minutes) every day is extremely important for your mental health. Encouraging others to do the same is a wonderful intervention strategy. Exercise, good nutrition, mindfulness, listening to music, yoga, writing in a journal, catching up with friends who make you feel good about yourself are some wonderful examples of good self-care.
IT AIN’T WEAK TO SPEAK
IT AIN’T WEAK TO SEEK
IF IN DOUBT, REACH OUT
If you are struggling and need to reach out for help, visit our Get Help Page for organisations that can help you through it.