September 12th is National R U OK Day. This day was started as a way to help get conversations started about Mental Illness. R U OK aims to empower people to ask those around them a simple question meaningfully. Are you OK?
R U OK has 3 things that they hope to achieve. These include educating people about having meaningful conversations regularly, promoting a call to action ie asking a meaningful question and encouraging these conversations to happen everyday. It is hoped that by setting aside one day to focus on these conversations that they will help people to feel connected to the community around them.
We encounter many different people in our day. Check out assistants, the woman sitting next to you at the bus stop or a young family sharing the park with you. We pass people who are upset and simply put our heads down, hoping that the problem with go away. A simple, are you ok, may not completely change their lives but it opens the channels of conversation that they once thought were closed.
How many times have you answered ‘Good thanks’ when asked how you are? How many times have you asked the question yourself, expecting no more than a good thanks? A societal nicety, that while still a conversation, through social etiquette, the conversation is stunted, meaningless. The words are nothing more than a time filler, something that should be said, instead of wanted to be said.
It’s my belief that this level of social etiquette is what allows stigma to continually thrive. While I am not saying that you must tell your story to everyone who asks, I simply ask that you tell someone. I ask that you listen to the answer when you take the time to ask if someone is OK. Someone could be waiting for that one person to listen. I simply ask that you be prepared to be that person.
On September 12th take the time to ask R U OK, it might just save a life.
For more information please have a look at the R U OK website here.
This post is part of my A-Z of Mental Illness. You can find the rest of the posts here.
On alternate weeks I am opening to the blog to guest posts about parenting with a Mental Illness. If you would like to contribute please get in contact here and we can chat about your contribution.
Great initiative. A bit sad really that we have to have a special day to check in on the people around us. Also I think asking “So how’s everything going for you?” invites more of a real response than “how are you?” – I hate “how are you?”
I agree, I think how are you kind of expects the answer of fine, good or any other synonym of feeling positive. It’s sad that we have a day, but at the same time it’s a good reminder to take a moment and check in with our loved ones.
I am not getting your subscriptions again. Haven’t had an email in ages, just occurred to me I hadn’t been by your blog in a while and thought I would see if there were any updates, I will just have to make sure I do remember to check from time to time.
Look, you know I am all for anything positive for mental health – but I think Are you OK day is a lot of bollocks if I am perfectly honest. There’s no chance I am telling a stranger any of my problems, just none. I’d be frankly irritated if someone started asking me. I will normally ask someone if they are ok if they look distressed anyway – depending on my own mental health at that point and the circumstances and a whole variety of factors, but generally I will go ahead and talk to a distressed looking person – and don’t need a day for it. I also think if people are unempathetic and uncaring they won’t bother with this and if they’re the opposite, they don’t need it.
I really hope you’re not offended by me airing my opinion – but you know me, it’s hard to keep a loudmouth quiet! And if it works for other people, all good. For me, I will be doing what I did last year and ignoring Are you OK day to the best of my ability 🙂
I think it’s a reminder more to slow down and ask our loved ones if they are feeling ok. I know for me, I get caught up in doing my own stuff and forget to check in with friends to see how they are doing. It’s not because I don’t care about them, just life gets in the way some times. I think the idea of it’s nice, but as you say those who don’t care aren’t likely to take it on board longer than one day.
Awesome idea. I was just thinking recently that today’s communications (internet mainly) are great but they also serve to put a lot more pressure on people to be in touch on a regular basis, through uploading photos or blogging or commenting or texting etc, and as such the quality of communications has gone downhill. And so you end up spreading yourself too thin trying to ‘keep in touch’ with everyone. It’s rare these days that I’ll call a friend for a yarn… but I miss that. And for people having a bad day, or week, or year, it’s the quality of care that really counts.
You are so right and even though we are updating our statuses and uploading pictures, we have come to a point where we feel that liking a picture is enough for communication. I think we sometimes need to cut back the quantity and go back to having quality.