‘How are you?’ It’s a question we ask each other all the time, usually in passing.

There’s one answer we expect to receive: ‘good’.

And then we all get on with our day.

Every now and then, we’re reminded that ‘How are you?’ is a really important question, and that we need to listen beyond the standard response.

R U OK? Day on 10 September is the reminder we all need right now to check in with the people around us, and to really listen. And there are four steps to doing this:

Ask the question 

You might ask someone how they are if you think they don’t seem like their usual self. It’s really important to take the time to ask every now and then.

Listen to the answer 

If someone opens up to you, your role is to simply listen. Try not to interrupt, and instead give them the space to talk.

Direct them to support 

Encourage the person to take further action if needed. Let them know who they can talk to: you, other friends and work mates, support services, or their GP. If you’re worried about the state of mind the person is in, call 000 straight away. Support Services: click here.

Check in again 

In the next couple of days or weeks, it’s a great idea to check in with the person to see how they are.

This connection can make the world of difference.