R U OK Day is on September 10, marking the date that everyone is encouraged to check in on one another and ask how they are feeling with regards to mental health.

Initiating this conversation is incredibly important but knowing what to say if someone answers no is paramount.

Lysn psychologist Noosha Anzab provides her advice on what to do if someone isn’t ok.

Consider how you ask the question

Asking the R U OK? question is the first step in what will hopefully be an open and ongoing conversation. Firstly, try to start the conversation in a private setting, when you’ve both got time to really listen and respond.

Asking the question when someone is rushing off to school or work isn’t a good time to allow each other to open up. It’s also not advisable to ask right before bedtime, because if someone isn’t feeling ok, this can cause them to lose sleep thinking about things.

Also be sure to listen to someone without judgement as this will ensure they feel comfortable keeping the conversation going.

Ask more than once

While there is an official day to ask the R U OK question, it shouldn’t be limited to just once a year. If you suspect someone might be struggling, consider asking the question every now and then.

Ensure you come from a place of concern and empathy and consider the way you word things. Using phrases like “I’ve noticed you don’t seem to be yourself lately” can be beneficial and prompt a bigger conversation.

Reassure them

If the response is no, firstly let them know what they’re feeling is normal and that it is ok to not be ok. Avoid phrases like “don’t worry about it” or “it will get better soon” as these phrases can come off as dismissive and minimise their problems.

Instead you want to reassure and validate their response by saying things like “that sounds tough, is there any way that I can help?”

Offer to help

While it can be hard knowing the right thing to say, there can be some practical things you can do to help someone.

A great example is when a mother is feeling stressed, offering to help ease some of the burden by bringing over some meals or taking care of her children can help.

Check in on your mama friends to see if they are doing ok.

Encourage action

Speaking to a psychologist can be like a gym workout for your mind and is definitely something to be encouraged. People don’t need to wait until things are bad to speak to a psychologist, it can be beneficial at any stage. Encourage action in your friend, child or loved one by suggesting a session with a professional.

Services like Lysn, provide access to sessions with a psychologist over the phone or video chat, which can be accessed from the comfort of your own home. They can also help you find your best-fit online psychologist through a simple, sophisticated matching questionnaire.

Lysn is a digital mental health company with world class wellbeing technology which helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist whilst being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.