Have the conversation:
Ask, Listen, Encourage action, Check in.
Find a place where you think they'll be comfortable about opening up. Start with saying what you’ve noticed: maybe they seem stressed, tired, have been coming into work late, not replying to calls and messages, missing social events. It can help to show your vulnerability and share what’s going on in your own life.
“I can’t imagine how tough going through a divorce is. How are you coping?”
“I haven’t heard from you in ages. Is everything OK?”
“You seem stressed. Is anything up?”
They may not be ready to talk and that's OK. Consider others in their support network who might be well placed to chat with them. Make sure the person knows you're there for them and that you care. It can also help to say:
“It’s ok not to be OK.”
Listening is the most important thing you can do — without judgement.
“No matter what’s bothering you, I’m here for you.”
Don’t try to diagnose or fix their problems.
Encourage them to keep talking, ask open-ended questions.
“How long have you felt that way?”
“Things have been really tough for you. Tell me more about it.”
Encourage them to create a support team of trusted people, including:
A doctor. The doctor is there to help with whatever is going on with your physical and mental health. The doctor can work with them to create a personalized care plan.
A therapist. Therapy, when provided by the right mental health specialist, can be as effective as medication. Ask the doctor for a referral.
People they trust. Engaging with more people like you is key. This could be a friend, family member, or colleague, even if they haven’t talked to them in a while — encourage them to reach out and let them in on the real stuff that is going on in their life.
Following up, and staying in touch is key.
Set a reminder for yourself to send a message or call. Set a time for the next catch up, grab a bite to eat or do something together.
Make sure they know you’re there for them and that you care.
Thank you to R U OK? for developing the “How to Ask” ALEC Model.
If you’re having thoughts of hurting yourself or others, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline on 1-800-273-8255 or Lifeline Crisis Chat.
If your life is in danger, call 911 or go directly to emergency services.