R U OK? Day. The Power of Mental Health First Aid Conversations

Today marks R U OK? Day, a significant annual event that serves as a powerful reminder that every day is an opportunity to ask a simple yet life-changing question: “Are you OK?” This day of action encourages us to initiate a conversation if someone we see might be struggling.

R U OK? Day

R U OK? is a harm prevention charity that focuses on promoting conversations aimed at helping others navigate difficult times in their lives. The organisation encourages individuals to remain connected and develop the skills, motivation, and confidence required to have meaningful conversations with those who may be facing life’s hardships. By fostering personal relationships and building the capacity of informal support networks among friends, family, and colleagues, R U OK? contributes significantly to suicide prevention efforts, long before individuals find themselves in crisis.

The Foundation of R U OK?

R U OK? is a non-profit Australian suicide prevention organisation founded by the late advertising expert Gavin Larkin in 2009. Central to its mission is the powerful slogan, “R U OK?”

R U OK? collaborates extensively with experts in suicide prevention and mental health, as well as various stakeholders, including government departments, corporate leaders, educators, universities, students, and community groups. Its efforts align with the Australian Government’s LIFE Framework, emphasising early intervention, support, and community well-being.

The 2023 Theme – “I’m Here, To Hear”

The theme for R U OK? Day 2023 is “I’m Here, To Hear.” While asking the initial question, “R U OK?” is vital, it’s equally essential to genuinely listen and understand what follows. Effective Mental Health First Aid conversations involve more than just asking; they involve active listening and empathy.

Having the R U OK? Conversation – Tips for Mental Health First Aid

To ensure your R U OK? Day conversations are effective in providing Mental Health First Aid, consider these tips:


Approach with a relaxed, friendly, and concerned demeanor.
Initiate the conversation with open-ended questions like “How are you going?” or “What’s been happening?”
Mention specific observations that have led to your concern, such as “You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?”


Take their words seriously without interrupting or rushing.
Avoid judgment; acknowledge that they may be going through a tough time.
If they need time to gather their thoughts, be patient.
Encourage them to share their feelings, asking questions like “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt this way?”
Show your attentiveness by summarizing what they’ve shared in your own words and seeking confirmation.


Inquire about their past coping strategies for similar situations.
Ask how you can support them with Mental Health First Aid.
Suggest enjoyable or relaxing activities and consider doing them together.
If their struggles persist for over two weeks, encourage them to seek professional support.


Set a reminder to follow up in a couple of weeks or sooner if needed.
Express your concern and ask about their well-being since your last conversation.
Explore whether they’ve discovered new ways to manage their situation, and if not, assure them that you’re there to listen and support.https://www.ruok.org.au/

For more information on how to have a discussion this RU OK? Day visit https://www.ruok.org.au/.