Written by Greta Porter
September 8th is R U OK? Day which is dedicated to inspiring and empowering everyone to reach out to their friends, families and colleagues and genuinely ask, are you okay? R U OK? Day aims to eradicate the stigma around mental health and remind everyone to check in with each other and speak up if you’re struggling. A conversation by simply asking are you okay? can go a long way to helping someone and being a good friend.
The following are some tips in light of R U OK? Day on how to be a good uni friend and an even better listener.
- Ask if they’re okay. If a friend seems off or not their usual selves, check in with them. A private conversation in the right setting is ideal. Find a private moment to speak to them in person or flip them a sincere message.
- Listen to what they have to say. There’s nothing worse than when someone isn’t actively listening to what you have to say or keeps butting in. Being an active listener is an incredibly undervalued skill and it’s one that needs to be learnt. Listening to understand rather than listening to respond is how you become a good friend and one people will trust.
- Encourage action. If someone needs extra help, encourage them to seek it whether it be a counsellor, psychologist or a help line. Being there for your friends and suggesting they take action is incredibly beneficial to them getting the help they need. Even if a friend is struggling with the stress of uni, encourage them to reach out to their lecturers and ask for help with assignments or for extensions if they need.
- Check back in. If you reached out to a friend a couple weeks ago and they admitted to struggling whether it’s with their uni workload, family, work, anxiety, depression, grief, homesickness or anything else, be sure to check back in with them. It’s one thing to ask if they’re okay, but it’s another to check in with people down the track to see how they’re travelling and if there’s anything you can do to help. It’s things like this that’ll make you a valuable friend.
- Remember the details. Good friends are always the ones who remember the details and little things about you whether it be remembering your family’s names or remembering you were travelling during the week and asking how your trip went. It’s these little things that made good friends great friends.
- Dedicate time for your friends. Everyone has busy lives and it’s easy to get caught up with the workload of everything but planning and setting aside time to relax and hang out with friends is what makes a good friend. An active friend is better than an absent one who doesn’t make time to hang out and spend quality time together. This could be something as simple as going for a walk together, watching a football match, heading to the movies or getting coffee and taking a stroll through the park.
- Show an interest in their passions. Everyone has interests and passions unique to them so taking the time to find out what these are, listening and taking a genuine interest in them is what makes a good friend. It’s also a great way to socialise and keep in contact with friends if you have things in common and interests you can share/talk about.
- Apologise if you make a mistake. We’re only human and we make mistakes. If something happens, being a good friend means apologising when you mess up. Admitting when you’ve done them wrong is how you build trust and build a stronger relationship. Forgiveness ties in with this so if someone genuinely apologises for their mistakes, be sure to forgive them and move on.
- Be there in times of crisis. Life is full of ups and downs and it’s one thing to ask if your friends are okay, but it’s another to be there when things hit the fan. When your car breaks down and you need someone to come pick you up or drop you to work, friends that you can rely on no matter what are so valuable.
- Show them that you care! Doing little favours can go a long way such as asking if they need anything from the grocery shop, shouting them a coffee, letting them borrow your favourite book or sending them a TikTok that reminded you of them.
This R U OK? Day, challenge yourself to ask a friend, a colleague or a stranger if they’re okay. Take this time to also reflect on your own mental health and ask yourself if you’re okay. With the pressures of uni and finishing the last assignments and exams of this year, now is a good time to check in with your physical, social, emotional and cognitive wellbeing.
If you or someone you know is struggling, please don’t hesitate to call:
Lifeline on 13 11 14
Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636
1800 Respect on 1800 737 732