14 September 2023 is R U OK? Day and a great reminder that if you're worried about a friend or work colleague, there's no time like the present to reach out and ask if they're OK.

If you're unsure how to start a conversation with someone you're worried about, watch this video and read on to learn about the ALEC method.

The ALEC method in a nutshell

A = Ask

Help them open up by asking questions like:

  • How are you going?;
  • What’s been happening?; or
  • How are you traveling?”

You can also make an observation or 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?"

L = Listen

Take what they say seriously and don’t interrupt or rush the conversation. If they need time to think, try and sit patiently in 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.

E = Encourage action

Ask them: “where do you think we can go from here?” or “what would be a good first step we can take?” You can also ask "what do you need from me or "how can I help?”

Good options for action might include talking to family, a trusted friend, their doctor, or their Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

C = 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?”

This advice is drawn from the "HOW TO ASK R U OK? AT WORK: A practical guide for the workplace" You can download the full guide here:


If the person you're supporting needs crisis support, encourage them to use one of these crisis support services:

  • Lifeline (24/7) | 13 11 14 |
  • Beyond Blue (24/7) | 1300 224 636 |
  • Suicide Call Back Service (24/7) | 1300 659 467 |
  • SANE Australia | 1800 18 SANE (7263) |
  • 13 YARN | 13 92 76 | Crisis support for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples
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