Keeping the R U OK? conversation going

At Thursday’s Employee Forum, we were joined by a panel of experts who provided advice on how to connect and engage with ourselves and others during this time of uncertainty. Our panellists all reiterated the importance of looking out for signs that people may not be feeling like themselves and creating a safe environment for them to discuss their feelings.

Dr Sarah Barker from Black Dog Institute provided some helpful tips on how to start an effective conversation including:

  • having the conversation in private
  • asking at an appropriate time
  • using open questions
  • observing abnormal or unusual behaviour
  • actively listening and engaging in the conversation.

While it is important to start these conversations, it is also equally as important to keep them going. Asking the question can be hard, but sometimes knowing what to say after R U OK? is even harder. Here are some steps you can take after asking R U OK?

Listen with an open mind

It can be easy to judge another person’s situation, especially when we can’t relate to what they are going through. It is important to approach these conversations with an open mind and acknowledge that things can be tough.

It is also important to encourage them to explain their feelings by using prompts such as “how are you feeling about that?” or “how long have you felt that way?”. It can be helpful to show that you’ve listened by repeating back what you have heard in your own words and ask if you have understood them properly.

Encourage action

If you find that the person you have been talking to has been feeling down for a long period of time, encourage them to see a health professional. Speaking positively about seeking professional advice may help them feel more open to the idea. Some prompts you could use include:

  • “How would you like me to support you?”
  • “What is something you can do for yourself right now? Something that is enjoyable or relaxing?”
  • “When I was going through a tough time, I tried this…you might find it useful too.”
  • “It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you.”

Check in

Remember to check in with them again later on. Staying in touch and showing genuine care can make a real difference. You can start with something like, “I’ve been thinking of you, how have you been?” or “I’m just checking in, how have you been going since we last spoke?”

It’s important to remember there are a number of resources available to Monash Health employees including Call a Psychologist, EAP and the Health and Wellbeing page on the Monash Health COVID-19 website.

While we didn’t get through all the questions on Slido on the day, we will aim to get them answered by our panellists in the coming week. If you missed the panel, you can watch the event here. You can also view upcoming events here. Remember to tune in to our Thursday employee forums for more health and wellbeing content.

Approved by Karen Lowe

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