Here’s How To Check In With Your Mates ‘Cos Asking If Someone’s OK Is Not Just A One Time Thing

Content warning: this article mentions suicide.

Let’s cut to the chase, 2024 hasn’t been it. But now, more than ever, it’s important to take steps to look after your mental health and be there for your mates.

Thankfully, you don’t need to DM a friend and freak them out by asking if they have the emotional capacity for a conversation. You simply need to bring out their inner yapper.

Annie Fardell Hartley, a dedicated Psychologist and Suicidologist with 25 years of experience, explained, “While talking about your feelings can be hard, it is important to share what you are experiencing. By sharing your feelings, it helps you process them.”

Research from R U OK? found that young Australians are more likely to open up to their close mates than anyone else. But talking about mental health isn’t easy for everyone and you might not even know how to start the conversation with your mates.

“There’s no one way to ask, ‘Are you OK?’, you can ask in any way that works for you and your relationship with that person,” said Annie.

Her advice? Get together regularly and make it a normal topic of conversation.

“If you connect regularly and chat about life, it can become easier for them to open up when they’re struggling.”

You know your mates best and how to check in with them, and you’re probably already doing it. Maybe that looks like: 

  • Inviting that friend who didn’t get tickets to Olivia Rodrigo on a late-night drive to blast her music.
  • A quarterly PowerPoint Presentation going over every upsetting life event, but with fun transition slides!
  • Making sure your Tillies supporter friend isn’t sacrificing too much sleep on the Paris Olympics (because no one should lose sleep on the French).
  • Going on a hot girl walk during lunch with a workmate and venting about that one project driving you both nuts.
  • Having a quick coffee catch-up with a friend that turns into a full day of yapping.
  • Inviting your friends to jump on and play some games with you.
  • Following up with a friend after you notice them saying or acting a bit out of it during a catch-up.
  • Scheduling in dedicated days for mental health check-ins and your favourite feel-good activities.
  • Sending your best mate 43 TikToks in 5 minutes and saying “Us” to let them know you’re thinking of them. 

The most important thing is that you’re consistently talking to your friends and reminding them that sharing their feelings is safe within the group. Touching base often and giving your friends that opening is where those lifesaving conversations can kick in.

This is something that Sydney Thunder Cricketer Chris Green and his mates live and breathe. They put a system in place for their friendship group to look out for each other after they lost a friend to suicide in 2014.

 “It was a big wakeup call that people around us might be struggling, and it kickstarted us to start properly checking in on one another,” said Chris.

“We agreed that if someone is quiet on the group chat or missing times we normally get together like golf, we should ensure that there is a contact point made, face to face, to see that everything is going OK. Ten years on, we’re still doing it. We don’t just accept that you’re too busy to catch up and make time to ensure one of us isn’t going through a tough time feeling alone.”

If that gut feeling of being worried about a mate seems familiar but you’re not sure how to help them, Annie’s advice is to start with the conversation.

“Ask genuinely and take the time to listen,” she said.

“That’s often all that’s needed to help people feel supported, heard, safe and better about managing their situation.”

For more tips on how to to start a conversation and check in your with friends, visit R U OK? to learn more.