Suncare's advice to start the mental health conversation

Suncare's advice to start the mental health conversation

If you have a feeling that something is just not quite right with someone you know or care about, start a conversation.

Genuine care from family and friends can make a significant difference to those struggling with their mental health. 

It’s important to take action if someone you care about doesn’t seem like themselves, is acting out of character, or has become withdrawn. Making the effort to start a conversation could be the incentive they need to open up or access further support.

R U OK has outlined FOUR simple steps to help you stay connected with friends and family, and have meaningful conversations. 

Step 1: Ask questions and start the conversation

  • Be relaxed and friendly.
  • Help them open up with open-ended questions and encourage them to talk, such as: “How are you going at the moment?”
  • Mention the specific things that made you concerned, for example:  "You’ve been pretty quiet lately compared to usual.”
  • If they don’t want to talk, let them know that you are always available to chat, or ask if there is anyone else they could talk to?

Step 2: Listening is key

  • Take what they say seriously and don’t judge.
  • Don't interrupt.
  • Acknowledge that things seem tough for them.
  • Encourage them to explain: "How are you feeling about that?" or "How long have you felt that way?"
  • Show that you've listened by repeating back what you’ve heard (in your own words) and ask if you have understood them properly.

Step 3: Encourage them to seek help or take some action 

  • Ask: “What have you done in the past to manage similar situations?”
  • Ask: “How would you like me to support you?"
  • Ask: “What’s something you can do for yourself right now? Something that’s enjoyable or relaxing?”

If they've been feeling really down for more than two weeks, encourage them to see a health professional. You could say, "It might be useful to link in with someone who can support you. I'm happy to assist you to find the right person to talk to.”

Step 4: Check in and be there for support

  • Put a reminder in your phone or diary to call them in a couple of weeks. If they're really struggling, follow up with them sooner.
  • You could say: "I've been thinking of you and wanted to know how you've been going since we last chatted."
  • Stay in touch and be there for them. Genuine care and concern can make a real difference.

More information on how to ask is available on the R U OK website

Crisis care

If you or someone you know is in a crisis and requires immediate support, call emergency services on 000.

Support services

  • Beyond Blue Call 1300 224 636 24 hours / 7 days a week to talk with a trained mental health professional.
  • Lifeline 13 11 14 - A 24-hour, nationwide service that provides telephone and online counselling. 
  • R U OK 
  • Mind health connect provides mental health and wellbeing information, support and services in Australia.