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.