Connecting for Health and Wellbeing

R U OK?

De La Salle is once again participating in “R U OK?” Day on Thursday 12 September.

We know that suicide prevention is an enormously complex and sensitive challenge. However, we know that some of the world’s smartest people have been working tirelessly and developed credible theories that suggest there’s power in the simplest of questions — “Are you ok?”

One of the most significant theories is by United States academic, Dr Thomas Joiner. Dr Joiner’s father took his own life and Thomas has dedicated his research to try and answer the question “why?” His theory tries to answer that complex question by describing three forces at play in someone at risk. The first force is the person thinks they’re a burden on others; the second is that they can withstand a high degree of pain, and the third is they don’t feel connected to others.

It’s this lack of connection (or lack of belonging) that we want to prevent and R U OK? Day encourages people to think about the relationships in their lives and consider whether we are making quality time for those who matter most. Bronnie Ware an Australian palliative care nurse interviewed her patients and asked them about regrets they had throughout life and what they would do differently? One of the top 5 regrets was people wishing they had stayed in contact with friends and put more time and effort into their friendships.

In the lead up to this nationwide day, we are encouraging all members of the De La Salle Community to check in with a friend, family member or colleague or more generally put focus and time into all their relationships (i.e. marital, parental and friendships.)

If you do have someone you’re wondering about then try and take the time to ask “Are you ok?” and listen. That way we can help people struggling with life to feel cared for, valued and important long before they even think about suicide. It all comes down to regular, face‐to‐face, meaningful conversations about life and asking “Are you ok?”

We want this to be more than just a token question, asked without really wanting to hear the response. We know that feeling connected to others that genuinely care about us, our emotions and the events of our life is incredibly important. It safeguards us against loneliness, isolation, depression, suicide, anxiety and increases our happiness, contentment and sense of belonging. Human beings weren’t made to live in isolation… we are wired for connection!

Being a parent myself, I’m aware of how incredibly easy it is to focus on the external tasks of life rather than the internal world of emotions and feelings of our boys. This is one of the reasons they turn to peers… we adults become administrators rather than mentors.

So, your homework is this:

Have a conversation with your lad… BUT, before you do, think about the following:

  1. Have I chosen somewhere relatively private and comfy?
  2. Have I figured out a time that will be good for them to chat?
  3. Have I made sure I have enough time to chat properly?
  4. Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation.
  5. Listen to understand DON’T listen to respond
  6. If they need time to think, sit patiently with the silence.
  7. Encourage them to explain: “How are you feeling about that?” or “How long have you felt that way?”
  8. Show that you’ve listened by repeating back what you’ve heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly.
  9. Ask: “How would you like me to support you?”
  10. Pop a reminder in your diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they’re really struggling, follow up with them sooner.
  11. You could say: “I’ve been thinking of you and wanted to know how you’ve been going since we last chatted.”
  12. Ask if they’ve found a better way to manage the situation. If they haven’t done anything, don’t judge them. They might just need someone to listen to them for the moment.
  13. Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.

I know it’s a lot of homework, but if done properly you should be able to get it done in about 30 minutes.

Feel free to report back with any questions you may have… You WILL NOT BE GRADED!

Ms Karina Dubroja
College Psychologist, Tiverton Campus

Back to The Duce Issue 2019 12 - 29 August 2019