Archive for October, 2010
A very interesting discussion regarding the effectiveness of the R U OK day initiative has been posted on the website Atomik Soapbox.
I was pleased to read one person’s experience with the campaign and their thoughts about it. It’s quite a gusty thing to share in public about such personal matters. I happen to agree with the opinion that the campaign was conceptually flawed. Hopefully more will be achieved from discussing why some people feel this way then was accomplished by the campaign itself. So in an odd twist of circumstances, perhaps in the end it will have a useful outcome.
From a personal perspective I will share that in spite of being hospitalised several times for depression related incidents, including suicidal behaviour, not one person asked me if I was OK on the day. I’m not sure how I would have responded to the question as one thing you learn about depression is that people will more than likely regret asking that question if you respond honestly. Also, it’s not like I’m prepared to have such a personal and sensitive conversation with just anyone. It’s easier to just say I’m OK and let the person feel good that they have done their part.
People simply don’t want to hear about despair and hopelessness or take the time to understand the complex situations that lead to such illness. And that’s the one thing people don’t seem to have for each other in today’s world, time. Talking to people today is about making your point in forty characters or less and moving on as quickly as possible.
While the R U OK campaign is certainly a good thing in that it gets people talking about very sensitive subjects, to me it falls in to a category I call ‘do gooderism’. This is something I discussed many times with volunteers over the years when working with disadvantaged youth and other social initiatives. Being a ‘do gooder’ strikes me as simply a way to make one’s self feel feel better and rarely results in lasting or effective change. That may sound harsh but I’m basing that opinion on experience. In my view effective support is based on true relationships. Those relationships may be personal or professional but regardless, they take time and an emotional investment.
I’m pleased the R U OK campaign has made the point that it’s important to ask people how they feel. Now let’s talk to people about what happens when the answer is ‘No, I am not OK’.