My friend Bron blogged this earlier today in response to some of the criticisms about RUOKDay? that were floating around the Twittersphere. She encouraged her readers to take a constructive look at mental health services in Australia and highlighted my tweet campaign for the Federal Government to reverse it’s pending funding cuts & to maintain the Better Access to Mental Health initiative as a positive example of activism.
Plenty of cynical comments around on twitter this morning about “RU OK day”. It’s great that you’re really smart and you can see flaws in this campaign. It would be even more great if you could also be smart enough to see, through all those flaws, what the spirit of the campaign is, particularly the spirit of the many others who are using the campaign to talk to their friends or colleagues, or to draw attention to other mental health campaigns.
The spirit of RU OK day involves:
* Thinking about your friends, colleagues, neighbours and others you see regularly but might not actually talk with about how they really are
* Getting over our socialised fears of asking direct questions/talking about feelings/initiating a deeper conversation with someone than you normally do
Many, many people have had an experience of depression where they found it very difficult to even tell close friends or partners how they felt. Many more have been the close friend, partner, or shared an office with someone without knowing that person was going through hell.
Today many people are actually sharing all sorts of links, reflections, memories that can help you understand depression and help you know what to do if you find out a friend is depressed.
There is plenty you can do to make the “are you ok” conversation more natural – invite someone to coffee, and start by chatting about crap for instance. But asking a direct question, while confronting, can often be important. Just like union organisers don’t just chat generally about a worker’s views about unionism – eventually they ask, “so will you join?” Eventually you should ask, “so are you OK?”
If you’re still a cynical bastard and don’t believe talking to people is a useful strategy, take a lead from @johnalchin who has been tweeting all day about the Government’s better access program, which covers a certain number of sessions with a psychologist, but is being cut.
At least use today to share something constructive that you think is a better approach to mental health.
Thanks for bringing the campaign against funding cuts to “Better Access” to the attention of your readers Bron. Here’s some some things they can do to help out.
Become part of the campaign to stop funding
cuts to the Better Access to Mental Health initiative today.
Follow these easy steps:
- Vote for ‘Better Access’ to Psychologists campaign suggestion on the GetUp site.
- Sign the online petition to the Hon. Mark Butler, the Minister for Mental Health.
- Visit the Alliance for Better Access website and share the content.
- Join the Facebook group and become a grassroots activist.