Episode 53

R U OK? How You Can Change A Life By Asking This Question with Anastasia Symons


September 17th, 2018

47 mins 17 secs

Your Host

About this Episode

Imagine a world where everyone is connected and are protected from suicide. This is what R U OK? are working to create.

Last week I spoke with Anastasia from the R U OK? team. As it was the day before their 10th annual R U OK? day, she was very generous with her time. R U OK? is an Aussie suicide prevention charity inspiring people to meaningfully connect and support those struggling with life.

As Anastasia shares, simply asking someone, “Are you OK?” and then starting the conversation could change someone’s life. She shares the steps you can take to show someone you care, that they are not alone and that help is available.

We also talk about how to notice if someone needs you to reach out to them, and even what to do when you ask someone if they are OK and they don’t want to talk about it.

This is a very important episode and provides you with the strategies you need to be there for your loved ones, friends and even strangers when they need you the most.

Due to the nature of this podcast, if you are effected in any way, please call lifeline’s national 24/7 counselling service on 13 11 14. And, for our listeners outside of Australia please contact your local crisis centre or your family doctor.

During our chat, Anastasia shared about:

  • How to switch off after a stressful day
  • Anastasia’s drive and passion for working with R U OK?
  • The difference R U OK? is making in the community
  • The importance of compassion and understanding when talking about suicide and mental health
  • Resources to help you talk about suicide and mental health * Mindframe media guidelines for school, media, theatre, anyone talk about suicide in the community - http://www.mindframe-media.info *Sane Australia stigma watch - https://www.sane.org/changing-attitudes
  • Two of factors that can put people at risk of suicide are a lack of belonging and being a burden on others.
  • R U OK? is an early intervention organisation to help build stronger connections with people so they feel a greater sense of belonging and knowing that they are not alone
  • Some indicators that someone might be struggling with life include: * changes in behaviour * their mood and attitude is more negative * they are more tired than usual and their sleep habits have changed * the way they describe their day is different
  • The 4 steps R U OK? recommend you use when you notice someone is struggling with life * Ask “are you ok?” in the right time and place where it is quiet and comfortable, and comment on some of the changes you have noticed * Listen: give them the space to share their story with open ended questions. Silence is ok in the conversations and it can serve as a prompt for them to open up more. Reflect back what you hear them say. * Encourage action. What are some of the steps they can take to start positive action. For example, see their doctor, and offer to take that step with them. * Check in. Don’t let the conversation be a one-off, instead taking time to follow up and continue the connection.
  • What to do if you ask someone “are you ok” and they don’t want to open up:
    * sometimes it can be the 6th or 7th time you ask when they open up
    * who else is in their support network who they might feel more comfortable talking to
    * emphasis the changes you have noticed in them. Eg, “I know you don’t want to talk about it and that you say you are ok, but I have noticed these things and if you ever want to chat I’m here for you.”
    * make an extra effort to connect with them and see if there is a better chance to ask them again
    * see if you can create a more positive way to talk about the benefits of help seeking and opening up to others, such as sharing your own story or that of someone you know.

  • The importance of educating yourself so that you are able to be there for others even more and take care of yourself even better

  • For more information on mental health check out:
    * R U OK? - https://www.ruok.org.au
    * Sane Australia - https://www.sane.org/changing-attitudes
    * Kids helpline - www.kidshelpline.com.au
    * Your town - https://www.yourtown.com.au
    * Headspace - https://headspace.org.au

  • If you are struggling yourself, we strongly encourage you to reach out for support. to your best mate, someone you work with, or someone that you trust and to start your help seeking journey. If you are not sure where to begin, going to your doctor is a great place to start, and being open and honest with them about why you booked the appointment is really important.

  • If you need an immediate listening ear connect with lifeline on 13 11 14. They are free, confidential, nation wide and open 24/7 (in Australia). They are online as well at https://www.lifeline.org.au.

  • If you are outside Australia, contact you local crisis centre.

  • The importance of connecting with your friends and loved ones so you can really work on and build your relationships.

  • Anastasia’s definition of doing life better

  • Anastasia’s challenge for the week: “Let’s chat”. Connect with someone, lock in the time to connect and have a chat.

You can connect with R U OK? at www.ruok.org.au and @ruokday on instagram

You can follow me on Instagram at @davejorna and @dolifebetterpodcast. To contact us about retreats, leadership training and workshops visit www.projecthatch.com.au or email us at hello@projecthatch.com.au.

Remember to subscribe to, rate and review the podcast to help spread the do life better message.

Now, go out and create a great day.