I honestly took awhile to sit and write this. You would think being a psychologist that it would make it fairly easy.
I’m ok and I am usually ok so it’s not really that I havent been ok. I’m lucky to have that sort of personality. I can’t explain it any other way. If I’m not ok, yes it would be great if people asked me, but you know what, I don’t think I’d tell them anyway. I’m not that way inclined. I think that may be the problem isn’t it?
Its great if we can ask people if they are ok but will they answer the question?
I don’t think that’s the point of this day. Initially during the previous years I didn’t tend to jump onto this initiative. It wasnt that I didn’t believe in asking people if they were ok it was more that I thought what is this? We need to be asking people “R U Ok” every day! Not just one day of the year.
I have shifted from this though as I think anything that gets us talking about mental illness, suicide prevention, psychological wellbeing, coping and not coping is important.
To reduce stigma we need to talk about it. Totally! And if that means at least one day of the year then its been a success.
I reflected and if we look at daffodil day and SIDs day which were the pioneers in designating a particularly day to raising awareness for illness and causes they have clearly made their mark. Daffodils and red noses, we all know what they relate to.
R U Ok day was first acknowledged in 2009. It was inspired by the death of Barry Larkin, Gavin Larkin’s (The founder) father by suicide.
As the website states
“Thursday 15 September, 2011 is R U OK?Day. It’s a national day of action which aims to prevent suicide by encouraging Australians to connect with someone they care about and help stop little problems turning into big ones. On that day we want everyone across the country, from all backgrounds and walks of life, to ask family, friends and colleagues: “Are you OK?”. Staying connected with others is crucial to our general health and wellbeing. Feeling isolated or hopeless can contribute to depression and other mental illnesses, which can ultimately result in suicide. Regular, meaningful conversations can protect those we know and love. It’s so simple. In the time it takes to have a coffee, you can start a conversation that could change a life.”
But Hugh is definitely good at explaining it too =)
Back to not answering the question, I think even just the act of asking if someone is ok is drawing attention to the fact that someone doesn’t appear themselves or doesn’t look happy. Not that we have to be the happy police but I think we get the point if someone is looking despondent and is not particularly reactive.
I think what is important for me in all of this is actually tuning in. Lets focus outside of ourselves and connect to those around us.
I know its difficult we have our own problems, we have busy lives but these are EXCUSES. There is no reason in this world why we cannot connect with another human being and ask a simple question “R U Ok?”. Hey it doesn’t even have to be that. Mine is “Everything ok?”, “All good?”, “It doesn’t sound like things are going well?”
Just touching base with that person is connecting ultimately to yourself. There is theory that we are one. All interconnected. therefore if one of us isn’t doing to well, energetically and vibrationally we are not going too well either.
Whether you believe in that or not it doesn’t matter. Helping someone else I can guarantee is the best high you will get.
Have you ever felt that a person just isn’t right today? Mmm that person usually does a and b then c but today they are not doing the same? That person is acting really angry and they’re not like that. That person looked like they were on the verge of tears.
None of these people have uttered a word. You have tuned in. You have read their body language, recalled from memory their habits or traits or you have picked up on their subtle emotional energy. This is what is an important step in “R U Ok?’ day. Even if they say yes they are fine you can show them by asking, that you are caring and concerned about their wellbeing. In some cases that is enough.
Below I have provided some options to follow up:
What if they do say “Yes I am fine” and clearly they are not?
~ Let them know that you are around if they do want to talk
~ Be mindful throughout the day or weeks as to their behaviour and approach again.
~ Suggest to someone closer to them that they may need to follow up with the person
~ Provide contact numbers for places like lifeline, kids helpline or any of those listed below.
~ If you are that concerned approach family or their GP and then inform the person what you have done. Dont worry if they react badly. You would prefer a strained friendship than something more serious like death.
Answering “No, I am not fine” may be a welcome relief for them. Dont feel burdened or pressured though as you will never be alone in providing help and assistance for this person.
~ Ask that person how they think you can help.
~ Work collaboratively with the person whilst you can as it is important they still feel in control.
~ If they are unable to make these types of decisions it is then about contact their family, their GP, their treating practitioner if they have one or making contact with the agencies that are qualified to assist in such a situation and can direct you to appropriate clinicians or services.
~ Just sit with the person. This lets them know you are there for them.
~ Listen but don’t force them to speak.
If at any stage someone is stating that they wish to harm themselves or take their own life please take this seriously. It is not for you to determine whether the intent is present. As the saying goes, it is better to be safe than sorry.
Contact emergency services if an immediate risk. If they are responsive to you then get them to their GP, local mental health facility or A & E hospital department
I wish I could tell you the stories and lives of those beautiful people I have come in contact with as a clinician who took their own lives. Beautiful souls they needed more people asking them ” R U ok?”
Please tune in today. To yourself and to others. Let someone know if you are not ok. You don’t have to talk about it. Knowing that someone is there and you are not alone is of benefit and can feel like it lightens your load a little. If you are tuning into someone else and letting them know you have noticed they are not themselves that is fabulous and I am grateful for your perception.
Me, I’m going to ask it today and every day as I normally do when I “feel” the need. I’m also going to let down some of my walls to acknowledge that some days I’m not ok and that is OK.
I have also linked up with a whole heap of other bloggers to raise awareness for this day over at My Big Nutshell
Crash test mummy is also providing a space for non-bloggers to speak about their experiences, go over and check it out.
A person who I admire greatly and love her words is Madam BiPolar, she will be nominated for an Australian of the year one day for the awareness she is raising and the walls she is bashing down.
The beautiful soul Lori at RRSAHM has been thrown into the spotlight and the work she has managed to do in the space of 9 months is amazing. This woman has had to ride her own grief rollercoaster yet has still provided a base and drive for awareness of suicide prevention and SPEAKing.
National help lines and centres
Lifeline 24/7 telephone counselling service 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service 24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved 1300 659 467 http://www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au
MensLine National 24/7 support for men dealing with relationship and family issues 1300 78 99 78 www.menslineaus.org.au
Kids Help Line 24/7 telephone and online counselling for young people 5–25 years 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelp.com.au
Reach Out! Online crisis and mental health information for young people au.reachout.com
SuicideLine Victoria 24/7 telephone counselling for people at risk of suicide, carers and bereaved 1300 651 251 www.crisissupport.org.au/SuicideLine.aspx
Telephone Interpreter Service If English is not your first language please call the Telephone Interpreter Service for assistance contacting a helpline 131 450
Helplines and Information
SANE Australia Helpline Mental health information, weekdays 9am–5pm 1800 187 263 www.sane.org
headspace Mental health services and support for young people 12–25 years www.headspace.org.au
beyondblue Info Line Information about depression, anxiety and related disorders 1300 224 636 www.beyondblue.org.au
Black Dog Institute Information about depression and bipolar disorder www.blackdoginstitute.org.au
Information on this website is to be used as a guide only and does not take the place of appropriate clinical care.