R U OK?Day - why we all need a friendly cuppa

R U OK?Day - why we all need a friendly cuppa

R U OK?Day falls on September 10 this year and with everything Australians have been through, be it drought, bush fires and now COVID-19, it’s even more important to check in on each other by asking R U OK?

Half of Australians will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime. Every year a million of us suffer with depression and two million with anxiety. That’s why initiatives such as R U OK?Day are so important, especially as we try to understand what constitutes our new ‘normal’ thanks to coronavirus.

the story behind R U OK?Day

R U OK?Day was launched in 2009 by Gavin Larkin, whose father had taken his own life, to begin a conversation on mental health. After taking part in an Australian Story documentary about his campaign in 2011, Gavin sadly lost his life to cancer, but R U OK?Day became his legacy.

Now R U OK?Day is a chance for us all to check in on anyone going through a tough patch. Just asking the question can be a big help, and we all know how therapeutic it can be to have a chat over a hot brew.

what to say on R U OK?Day

Asking a colleague, neighbour or someone you see from time to time to open up can be awkward – it seems to be particularly so for men. You don’t want to seem intrusive, but you do want them to know that they can talk to you about their feelings if they feel able.

As part of R U OK?Day, the charity has some suggestions about ways to break the ice. It involves a four step approach:

  • Ask
  • Listen
  • Encourage action
  • Check in

Here are some possible ways to broach was can be a difficult subject:


  •  “I’ve noticed a few changes in what you’ve been saying/doing.”
  • “How are things for you at the moment?”
  • “I know there’s been some big life changes for you recently. How are you going with that?”
  • “You don’t seem yourself lately – want to talk about it?”
  • “Just checking in to see how you’re going?”
  • “With everything that’s going on, you’ve been on my mind lately, how are you?”
  • “You’ve got a lot going on right now. How are you doing?


  • “Have you been feeling this way for a while?”
  • “I’m not going to pretend I know what it’s like for you, but I’m here to listen.”
  • “It sounds like that would be really tough. How are you going with managing it?”
  • “Do you feel like chatting a bit longer? I’m ready to listen.”
  • “What you’re going through isn’t easy, It’s good we can talk about it.
  • “Thank you for sharing this with me. That can’t have been easy for you.”
  • “Take your time, I’m here for you.”

Encourage action

  • “What do you think is a first step that would help you through this?”
  • “What can I do right now to support you?”
  • “Have you spoken to your doctor or another health professional about this? It might be a matter of finding the right fit with someone.”
  • “Have you had much support around you?”
  • “What’s something you enjoy doing? Making time for that can really help.”
  • “Is there anything you’ve tried in the past when you’ve felt like this, that’s made you feel better?”
  • “I know when I went through something similar, talking to a professional really helped me out. Would you like me to help you book an appointment?”

Check in

  • “I would like to keep checking in with you, is that OK?”
  • “Hey, how have you been since we last chatted?”
  • “ Just wanted to check in and see how you’re doing?”
  • “Have things improved or changed since we last spoke?”
  • “What’s been working for you since we last chatted?”
  • “Is the support we discussed working for you?”
  • “Do you need more support?”

So this September 10, reach out and check in with the simple question: R U OK?

To find out more about how you can get involved in R U OK?Day, download this free guide which also gives advice on mental health warning signs, as well as practical advice on how you can help.

If you’d like to talk to someone about any of these issues, contact Beyond Blue or call Lifeline on 131114.

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