Are you ok?Are you OK?  R U OK?

A recent  Huffington Post  blog post with a video clip highlighted how, at times, we are unsure how to approach mental health concerns with friends, family and within our communities. Dr. Lloyd Sederer, Medical Director, New York State Office of Mental Health, joined HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani for a video conversation on what individuals can do to connect with a person they may have concerns about.

Dr. Sederer explained that if concerned about a friend, family member, or someone in your community, simply ask, “Are you OK?”

“We shouldn’t be afraid to say, ‘Are you OK?’ and to have a conversation,” said Sederer. “We need to be able to have the courage to ask and then the courage to continue to ask the tough questions because that’s what counts.”

Four simple words (or four simple letters as in “R U OK?”). Anyone can say them. You don’t have to have credentials after your last name to care.

When in the midst of gloom or despair, everyone needs to know that someone cares. The words “Are you OK?” (or text “R U OK?”) could serve as that connection to your friend, family member or that person you see on the street who may not be OK.  A person in deep despair may even be thinking about harming his/herself or contemplating suicide. “Are you OK?” A conversation starter that could change a life…or save a life.