Here at Corporate Edge, we are huge advocates for R U OK Day, mental health and wellbeing, not just on an individual and personal level, but also at an organisational level, creating People First caring cultures. 

The working world is changing and it’s initiatives like R U OK that help open the door for difficult conversations that have the potential to impact and change someone’s life. 

If you haven’t heard of R U OK Day, here’s some information about their purpose, directly from their website which you can visit here.

“R U OK? is a harm prevention charity that encourages people to stay connected and have conversations that can help others through difficult times in their lives. Our work focuses on building the motivation, confidence and skills of the help-giver – the person who can have a meaningful conversation with someone who is struggling with life.”

As part of R U OK Day, we want to focus on and give you some helpful resources on how you can start a conversation around mental health at work, because it’s more than just asking “are you okay?”. 

How Do You Know if Someone Needs Support? 

We all live separate work and personal lives, but there are some signs you can be aware of in order to determine if you should start the conversation, or if someone looks like they need support. If in the last fortnight, you’ve noticed: 

  1. Changes in their physical appearance 
  2. Changes in their mood 
  3. Changes in their behaviour 
  4. Changes in how thoughts are expressed 

If you’ve noticed changes in these areas, then it’s time to start the conversation. 

The Simple Steps to Talk to a Co-worker/Employee Who’s Not Okay

Now that you’ve noticed changes in an individual and you’re ready to talk to them, here’s the steps you take. 

  1. Be ready 
  2. Be prepared 
  3. Pick your moment 

Now it’s time to start the conversation.

1  Ask R U OK? 

  • Be relaxed  
  • Help them open up by asking questions like “How you going?” or “What’s been happening?” or “I’ve noticed that you’re not quite yourself lately. How are you travelling?”  
  • Make an observation. Mention specific things that have made you concerned for them, like “I’ve noticed that you seem really tired recently” or “You seem less chatty than usual. How are you going?

2  Listen 

  • Take what they say seriously  
  • Don’t interrupt or rush the conversation  
  • If they need time to think, try and sit patiently with the silence  
  • Encourage them to explain  
  • If they get angry or upset, stay calm and don’t take it personally  
  • Let them know you’re asking because you’re concerned

3  Encourage action 

  • Ask: “Where do you think we can go from here?”  
  • Ask: “What would be a good first step we can take?”  
  • Ask: “What do you need from me? How can I help?”  
  • Good options for action might include talking to family, a trusted friend, their doctor or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) 

4  Check-in 

  • Remember to check in and see how the person is doing in a few days’ time  
  • Ask if they’ve found a better way to manage the situation  
  • If they haven’t done anything, keep encouraging them and remind them you’re always here if they need a chat  
  • Understand that sometimes it can take a long time for someone to be ready to see a professional  
  • Try to reinforce the benefits of seeking professional help and trying different avenues  
  • You could ask, “Do you think it would be useful if we looked into finding some professional or other support?” 

So, at this point, you’ve had the conversation and there are a number of reactions the other person could have to the conversation. 

To continue reading more about emotional reactions and more useful points of contact and other resources, you can find all the information that this blog post was based on, by clicking the link here to access the workplace guide.  

Access the workplace guide put together by R U OK Day here.

Please remember, that this information extends to the rest of the year as well. R U OK Day brings awareness to a prevalent issue, and we should always be aware of changes in someone close to us, and be armed with the confidence and knowledge on how to approach them and start the conversation. 

For more information, please see the list of reliable organisation websites to help you get started. 

Here are further links to multiple support lines:  


We hope you’re staying safe and well,

The Corporate Edge Team


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