Wanted: A moment, a mate and you. RU OK Day 2016

R U Ok day is one of the most significant days of the year for mental health – for a lot of reasons.  

Imagine telling our great-grandparents when they were young that one day we would be able to talk 
to a device and have it tell us where the nearest movie is, send a drone out to see what the surf is like and google a street view of Paris from your lounge-room. But we would have to have a public awareness campaign to ask people to have a conversation to see how each other were really going?  What if we told our great-grandparents that cars would have airbags, anti-slip technology and eye-blinking sensors to notify us when we were beginning to nod off in vehicles, but the greatest cause of death in under 45 year olds would become the thousands of people every year quietly taking their own lives.
Conversation – really checking in with someone, has become a bit like one of those National Geographic documentaries where salmon swim up the stream and not down it. Sending an email, posting an emoji and sharing a pic of our eggs benedict on a Sunday morning with our 500 followers? Easy.  Putting your device down and really talking?  Tougher.
Today is a good day to change that.  Checking in with someone around you where you see the pre-emotion before the obligatory “Good thanks, how are you? Noticing the slight quietness, or reflecting that they have a lot happening?  Priceless.
In those moments where you notice and wonder about saying something or not, take these thoughts with you;
  1.  Think about the worst thing that could happen by checking in? It is not predictable and we are unsure how it will go? Unlike emails we edit 5 times before we send, it is okay to know the beginning but not the end. We’re not deciding whether to cut the red wire or the blue wire as the bomb ticks. You don’t have to have answers or know what to say other than to make a start. Asking is what is important.
  2.  Leave your red cape in the wardrobe and your jocks on the inside.  You are one human being on the park bench of life, letting another one know that there is a quiet space, and room on the bench next to you if they have a minute to take it.
  3. Silence is good if it comes.  Don’t feel the need to fill it with humour if you feel vulnerable.
  4. Start with an observation or a thought.  Mate – you’ve been through a big few months.  I’m not sure how you’ve done it.  How are you travelling?
  5. If the person you check in with does share something difficult, a gentle “Thanks for telling me” is more powerful than you can know.  More powerful than jumping in with a solution.
  6. Conversations are like plugging a destination into your GPS.  It will tell you there are 2450 alternative routes available.  You won’t get it right or wrong. Trust yourself.   

I promise it will make more of a difference than you know.


Peta Slocombe (M.Psych)
Managing Director 
Vital Conversations

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