At One Good* Day, we’re on a mission to nurture meaningful conversations about mental health, normalise mental health conditions and break down stigma. We know that one of the most challenging parts of supporting someone in a crisis is knowing what to say when they admit they’re not coping.
When is RUOK? Day in 2021?
RUOK? Day is on Thursday 9 September this year. The organisation exists to offer suicide prevention services and raise awareness for the power of conversation to change people’s lives. By encouraging everyone to invest more time and attention in their personal relationships, there’s a greater chance that when someone is struggling, they’ll get the support they need well before they’re in crisis.
Mental health tips from One Good* Day Recovery Coaches
People come to us with a range of different mental health conditions seeking support to get their lives back on track. Recovery Coaches are instrumental in supporting people who may not have anyone in their corner right now, so they often meet people when they’re struggling the most.
If you ask someone if they’re okay and they say no, here are some tips from our experienced Recovery Coaches on what you can do next.
Listen. This one is so simple but often missed, because it’s easy to step into “fixer” or solutions mode. Let people know you hear them, literally by saying “I hear you” and make sure your body language and tone all reflect the same message.
Let people know that you believe in them and their strengths. If you think they are brave, tell them. If you see that they have great empathy for others, let them know. Reminding people of their strengths is important because sometimes we forget. Sometimes the same thing we view as a weakness could be a strength in a different context, or looked at from another perspective.
Show people that you believe in their goals, abilities, and capacity to solve their problems. Listen actively and ask questions about how they want to get there. Generally, people need to reach solutions themselves for it to feel right, or to stick.
Check in. Assess to see how intense the negative feelings/thoughts are – ask if there is something you can do in the moment for the person. Do they need urgent professional help, or do they just need to chat? Assess the situation and ask questions – did something trigger them to not feel okay? Are there things making it worse?
Practice mindfulness and grounding with a person in a way that is supportive and non-threatening. Offer to make a hot drink, or go for a walk, or even just change the location to outside in the sun. Support the person to think about the things around them that they can engage with; anything that reminds the person that they are safe in this moment.
Listen. Oftentimes, people aren’t necessarily seeking advice but just want someone to listen to them and validate their feelings. It’s best not to jump to ‘solutions’, rather sit with the person and get to understand where they’re coming from and why they are feeling that way. This is the most important thing to do BEFORE looking for solutions, so the person feels that they are heard, respected, and understood.
Show empathy. Say things like, “I’m so sorry to hear that” or “that must be awful”.
Listen without judgment and interruptions so the person feels heard and can be open about what they are experiencing.
Ask what their support looks like and work with the person on how you can provide more support.
Put yourself in their shoes – even if their situation is similar to something you have experienced in the past, you can never really say that you know exactly how they feel. You can say: “I’m sorry that you’re going through that right now, it sounds like it’s overwhelming and you’re having trouble coping with it”, as opposed to ‘’I understand how you feel’’.
Don’t give advice or suggestions, but rather simply be a listening ear, a secure base and a safe haven so they can express how they feel. If they have chosen to be vulnerable with you, it likely means that they trust that you will be a source of support for them. Definitely don’t say things like ‘’Cheer up’’, or ‘’It’s not that bad’’!
Mental wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility. You might like to do a short course like Mental Health First Aid, which is similar to St John’s First Aid course but geared towards teaching you how to speak to people who are struggling.
Know your limits. If you feel the person is at risk of harming themselves or others, do make the appropriate referral – call an ambulance, CATT team or police and stay with them to keep them safe.
For many of us, the hardest part is starting the conversation. The most helpful thing is sometimes just being present, patient and creating a safe space to chat and listen. We don’t need to have all the answers. If someone isn’t ready to chat just yet, that’s totally fine and asking the question let’s them know that you are willing to listen when they are.
I think it’s important to be genuine, authentic and curious – to ask questions following up about what someone is going through. Everyone has a different story and experience that we may not understand because we are all different, but we can validate and acknowledge someone’s feelings and thoughts to help them feel understood and heard.
I like to ask someone how they would like my support going forward. Trying not to offer advice, or to force someone to do something, but instead encouraging them and suggesting options to continue to speak to someone that they may feel comfortable with to talk to whether this is a family member, friend, or a professional support.
After having the conversation, check in, then offer to do something lighthearted like going for a walk, doing a mindfulness exercise, or art therapy, or any self-care strategies.
No matter where you’re at, let’s start with One Good* Day
If you or someone you care for have an NDIS plan with funding for Recovery Coaching, our team would love to hear from you. Give us a call on 1300 146 631 to start a conversation about what support is available.