September 15, 2011

You Really Want to Know?

2 min read

Posted 11 years ago
by Téa Smith

I just want to say a few things about the ridiculous RUOK Campaign.

Despite the best of intentions, unless you are prepared for the following answer:

“No, actually, I am not OK. My life has fed me a shit sandwich since the day I was born and it continues to get worse. The only reason I stick around is because I am too determined to not let my piece of shit life defeat me.”


“No, I think about ending my life every single day”.


“No, I need your help.”

Seriously? Don’t ask.

If you are not prepared to pay $200 an hour for a Psychologist, or are not prepared to pay their bills and feed their cat when they are hospitalised… if they can get a place, or if they can afford the thousands of dollars a day to cover a private stay…

If you are not prepared to have someone break down in front of you.

If you don’t really know someone very well.

Then back the fuck off.

It’s a nice thought, really, but are you equipped to deal with the answer?

Have you experienced our mental health system lately?

The help isn’t there. Not really. Funding is for mental health services is atrocious. The system is abusive. No one gets support when recovering. Not really. We still have to work, pay bills, prioritise our days, parent… we all have to cope.

I agree that suffering in silence is a big, big problem. But sometimes, not talking about it helps you to just get through one more day, without losing your shit entirely.

And employers and colleagues have no business asking about your private life, no matter how many times we pretend that our workplaces are filled with our friends, and not people who would destroy those around them for a 1% pay rise, or an employer who would find a way to fire you if they found out you had a mental illness.

If you have ever sat in a Psychologist’s office, you will know the power of “how are you?”. It’s a big responsibility to ask that question. It is not something that should be done without serious consideration.

And training.

I know they mean well with R U OK. Yes, if you are genuinely concerned and willing to follow through, then check in (preferably on any day other than when there’s a morning tea set up by Shiela from Payroll who also happens to be the biggest gossip and bully). But… this is serious stuff. Reducing Psychology into water cooler conversation is the height of irresponsibility and recklessness.

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You're too kind :-)

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Hey there, good looking. Sorry to interrupt.

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