R U OK? Day: Make it every day

Taryn Heinrich

R U OK? Day – Thursday 9th September

Today is our National Day of Action when we remind Australians that every day is the day to ask, “are you OK?”

In my role as an HR consultant, I am lucky that I get to have interactions with a variety of clients. My role is to build connections with people from all walks of life and backgrounds. My aim with all of them is to provide a supportive and safe environment to talk about their business as a whole, but also the challenges that they themselves have, or their employees are facing in their day-to-day lives.

Every business that I work with is currently undergoing very different challenges due to the pandemic. Some are thriving whilst others are struggling to stay afloat. Our conversations start the same way every time I meet with them. How are you going? Are you ok? Some days that question can open up a person to give a truly honest answer of what they are going through. Other days it is simply, I’m good, thanks for asking.

I like to ensure that my clients know that they can always call when things aren’t going that well. We can talk it out, and some days not even have a solution at the end. But that conversation can still make a true difference to someone’s day.

The message for R U OK? Day 2021 is:

Are they really OK? Ask them today. Do you know how the people in your world are really going? Life’s ups and downs happen to all of us. So, it’s important you stay connected and make asking “are you OK?” a part of your everyday. That way if someone you know is struggling with something big, something small, or maybe nothing at all – they’ll know you care.

How to ask R U OK? (From www.ruok.org.au) Use these four steps and have a conversation that could change a life:

  1. Ask
  • Be relaxed, friendly and concerned in your approach
  • Help them open up by asking questions like “How are you going?” or “What’s been happening?”
  • Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like “You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?”

If they don’t want to talk:

  • Don’t criticise them
  • Tell them you’re still concerned about changes in their behaviour and you care about them
  • Avoid a confrontation
  • You could say: “Please call me if you ever want to chat” or “Is there someone else you’d rather talk to?”
  1. Listen
  • Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation
  • Don’t judge their experiences or reactions, but acknowledge that things seem tough for them
  • If they need to time to think, sit patiently with the silence
  • Encourage them to explain: “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt that way?”
  • Show that you’ve listened by repeating back what you’ve heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly
  1. Encourage Action
  • Ask: “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”
  • Ask: “How would you like me to support you?”
  • Ask: “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable and relaxing?
  • You could say: “When I was going through a difficult time, I tried this… You might find it useful too.”
  • If they’ve been feeling really down for more than 2 weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say “It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I’m happy to assist you to find the right person to talk to.”
  • Be positive about the role of professionals in getting through tough times
  1. Check in
  • Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they’re really struggling, follow up with them sooner.
  • You could say: “I’ve been thinking of you and wanted to know how you’ve been going since we last chatted.”
  • Ask if they’ve found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
  • Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.

You don’t need to be an expert to reach out – just a good friend and a great listener. Today, and every day, remember to check in with each other and ask the question R U OK?

You can also call upon these services for advice and assistance:

Lifeline (24/7)                                                                                                                   1800 RESPECT (24/7)
13 11 14                                                                                                                               1800 737 732
www.lifeline.org.au                                                                                                        www.1800respect.org.au

Suicide Call Back Service (24/7)                                                                             MensLine (24/7)
1300 659 467                                                                                                                   1300 78 99 78
www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au                                                                     www.mensline.org.au

Beyond Blue (24/7)                                                                                                        Griefline (6am – midnight)
1300 224 636                                                                                                                   1300 845 745
www.beyondblue.org.au                                                                                             www.griefline.org.au

Kids Helpline (24/7, for youth 5-25)
1800 55 1800

QLife (3pm-midnight)
Anonymous, free LGBTI support
1800 184 52

If a life is in danger or you’re concerned for your own or someone else’s safety, please call 000.



Disclaimer: The material contained in this publication is of a general nature only. It is not, nor is intended to be, legal advice. If you wish to act based on the content of this publication, we recommend that you seek professional advice.

About The Author
Taryn Heinrich

Taryn’s passion is working with businesses and individuals to bring out their best. Taryn developed her HR generalist skills working on investigations, strategic planning, employment contracts, and developing and implementing HR policies and procedures.

Working closely with your business and employees, Taryn has a distinctive talent for setting people up with the tools they need to do their job safely and helping your business operate successfully. If you need help with anything HR related, Taryn is your go-to person!

On the weekend, you’ll find Taryn spending time with her family and friends – she’s always the first to arrive and the last to leave.

For more useful information, follow Taryn on LinkedIn.

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