September 12 2023
No. We don't hate R U OK? Day.
To make this very clear, we love R U OK? Day but wish this type of sentiment would be further ingrained in the everyday life of your workplace or personal life versus something that is glossed over, once a year. We are 100% supporters of R U Ok? Day EVERYDAY!!!!
R U OK? Day is actually a really great initiative that encourages people to start thinking about not only their own mental health but that of others.
Some people struggle in silence and all it takes is for one person they trust to simply ask them if they are ok, which can set off a chain reaction that does see them release a little bit of that burden they are carrying.
Here is why we don't celebrate just the one, R U OK? Day:
- R U Ok? Year maybe?
R U Ok? Day exists to shine a light on starting these conversations, we get that, and this day just simply serves as a reminder. Businesses and individuals should be changing their behaviour to be more accepting and supportive YEAR ROUND of people who may be going through it.
- Some big businesses are just ticking a box.
Through our own lived experiences and those shared with us from the community, R U OK? Day breakfasts and gatherings have somewhat become a bit of a tick the box for some businesses.
Personally, I've been at an R U Ok? Day breakfast where the CEO of the business simply stated “Good Morning Everyone! R U Ok? If not, it’s not my problem, speak to HR and enjoy your Bacon and Egg roll.” After which he scooped up a coffee, bacon and egg roll and pissed off back to his corner office with a white marble desk and solid gold paper weight.
Not only is this sentiment incredibly disrespectful, but this comment alone has shown others in the business that if they are struggling with their mental health, well that’s just too bad and it’s not welcome in this business and you are alone. Not the best message to be sending to someone who may already be feeling this way.
- What happens if someone isn’t ok and you can’t handle the response?
There is little workplace training or education around what happens if you ask someone if they are ok, only to actually get a response of “No I am not!”.
You as an individual have to be confident in your own potential response to someone who isn’t doing well. There simply isn’t enough training or education for “civilians” to be able to respond in a productive manner that is not further harmful to that person.
Case and point - I recently completed my 1 millionth CPR & First Aid course, it’s safe to say I am well versed in how to restart a heart, something I hope I never have to do. At the beginning of the course, we spent 15 minutes going through “Mental Health First Aid” because of the “recent spike” in those suffering from a decline in their mental health - aka someone finally did a study on what we already knew but kept sweeping under the rug.
What we as a group of 25 individuals engaging in this course were told to do in the event that someone was showing signs of “anxiety and stress” was to say “You’ll be ok mate, here is a glass of water”. And that was the end of that chapter, moving on to the next.
Could you imagine the damage that would do to someone if they were having a mental health attack be it an anxiety attack, panic attack or any sort of scenario where their mental health was degraded, if the only solution was “have a glass of water”?
You also have to ask someone when the timing is right, not while you are stuffing your face full of a cupcake you got from a subpar toolbox breakfast moments after you have just been told your mental health problems are not the concern of the business you work for.
Read the room champ!
- We don’t hate R U OK? Day!
We just want to see businesses and individuals being more proactive year round when it comes to mental health day celebrations such as this.
One idea could be for the business to provide reimbursement for 1 free counseling session per month/bi-monthly or up to a certain value. Or instead of throwing $1000 at a crappy BBQ, maybe invest that money into positive and helpful mental health workshops for your staff or guest speakers who are experts in this field to said crappy BBQ’s - they would probably be less crappy then ;)
Support businesses doing amazing things like Trademutt and TIACS. For those who aren’t yet aware of these two Aussie organisations, Trademutt create funky workshirts that start conversations in particular about mental health. They have created a universal language that if you are wearing one of their shirts, not only do you support your own mental health but you are open and supportive when it comes to having a conversation about it. 50% of their profits are donated to TIACS (This Is A Conversation Starter) which provides FREE mental health phone and text support to tradies, truckies, rural and blue collar workers YEAR ROUND, ALL DAY EVERY DAY.
Other ways you can get around this initiative and further support positive mental health is by further educating yourself on the signs, how to have impactful and helpful conversations and support your family, friends and colleagues however they need to be supported. You can also request this type of education at work through your HR team.
We hope you have a positive and impactful R U OK? Day/year and please reach out to the support lines below if you need to have a further chat with professionals about your own mental health.
TIACS - Call or Text 0488 846 988
Lifeline - 13 11 14
Beyond Blue - 1300 22 46 36
For Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander People - 13YARN
For young people - ReachOut