Local Leader | Headspace: What to do when they’re not okay

September is World Suicide Prevention month, so you will see campaigns for R U OK Day, requesting people take time and ask their friends, family member and colleagues: “Are you okay?”.

Gail Davies

Gail Davies

But what if someone says they are not okay? What can you do?

Firstly, listen and try not to judge or “fix things” straight away – take time to listen, let them know that you care and that their feelings are important. If someone has been going through a rough time, it can be a big relief to talk about what has been going on. Listening can be helpful, even without taking any actions; it might just be what they need.

Let your friend or family member know that they don’t have to go through this on their own and that you are there to help and support them.

Some people need time before they’re willing to accept help. Just give them information about where to get help or provide them with fact sheets, phone numbers and websites can be useful.

Be honest about why you are worried and ask if anyone else knows how they are feeling.

Encourage them to talk to a trusted adult about what is going on and how they are feeling.

Sometimes, self-help strategies or talking to family and friends is not enough and that is okay. There are lots of professionals out there who can help.

Suggest they make an appointment with their general practitioner (GP) or a local headspace centre if things don’t begin to improve. You can offer to go with them if they need some extra support.

What if they don’t want help and you are still worried? Let their family or another trusted adult know that you are worried. You have to strike the right balance between your friend’s privacy and the need to make sure they are safe. If you decide to tell someone else, try and let your friend know first that you are planning on doing this.

Remember there are many organisations who can support your friend or family member through these difficult times, you don’t need to do this alone.

  • Lifeline – 13 11 14
  • Mental Health Line 1800 011 511
  • Online Support – eheadspace.org.au
  • Headspace Goulburn – 02 9824 4944
  • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800