• ADA Australia

R U OK? – A question that can be asked every day

It may seem like a simple question, but it’s amazing what these three little words can do for a person who is struggling mentally.
Back in 2009, Gavin Larkin, who lost his father to suicide in 1995, decided that one simple phrase: “Are you ok?”, would be the beginning of his journey to honour his father.

As a result, R U OK? Day was born and an opportunity was created for all of us to reach out and offer some support for anyone in their time of need. That simple phrase has become widely recognised for its quest to combat suicide and mental illness.


The 2021 R U OK? Day campaign has utilised the message: “Are they really OK? Ask them today”. This message is well timed, as many are currently struggling with the ongoing, seemingly never-ending, pandemic. At times like this, it is more important than ever to reach out to those we care about and offer a helping hand.


It only takes three words, and they can be lifesaving.


The R U OK? organisation proposes a four step process to starting the conversation.

  1. Ask R U OK?

  2. Listen

  3. Encourage action

  4. and Check in

Each step is as important as the last, but it all begins with getting the conversation going. It may not come easily to you, but find a quiet moment with the person and try these discussion starters:

• “I am a bit worried about you, R U OK? You don’t seem to be yourself lately”

• “You’ve seemed pretty troubled and down for a while. Would you like to grab a few minutes over coffee for a chat?”


Remember, you don’t need to feel that you need to solve their problems; just talking, and ‘opening the door’ a little, can set them on a path to help. Once you ask the question, keep them talking and listen to them; show your concern, show your care, tell them you want to stay with them and that you want to help.


You can also ask if they’ve talked to anyone about their struggles – their GP or a counsellor? – ask If they are having therapy or taking medication. Offering to call their GP or another crisis service can also encourage them to reach out for help. ( See ADA’s The Little Blue Book of MENTAL HEALTH pp. 116-117)


And always remember to check in. This isn’t an overnight fix and they may need your help and support for a prolonged period of time, so remember to check in, and be a part of their journey to good health.


If you would like to find out more on how you can get involved in the 2021 R U OK? Day campaign, visit the following link: https://www.ruok.org.au/


If this information raised any concerns for you, please do speak to your GP, they can help you back to good health, or call a helpline: LIFELINE 13 11 14 or BeyondBlue 1300 22 4636. Or reach out to the ADA Australia Friendly Ear Support line on 1800 232 287 (1800 ADA AUS).

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