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Five Reasons R U OK Day Isn't OK

Five Reasons R U OK Day Isn't OK

by Gemma Nichols


In the lead up to September 9th, most companies, institutions and individuals will at least pay lip service to mental health in the spirit of R U OK Day. This lip service may take the shape of increased social media posts encouraging people to speak up from individuals or influencers who have never expressed an interest in hearing anyone out before, but, it might also come in the form of corporate BBQ’s and morning teas at work or posters on the walls of schools and the side of buses.

While it is important to recognise that all of these efforts are undertaken with the best of intentions which include raising awareness and encouraging people to seek help, at TradeMutt we are very aware that many people find this period difficult. So, we have listed a few of the reasons that people might struggle when it comes to R U OK Day and how we can be sensitive to how they are feeling during this time.

The Time For Awareness Is Over 

It is difficult to buy into the idea of “mental health awareness” when you have either lost someone who struggled with their own mental health or you are helping care for someone who is still recovering. In fact, it can seem like a bit of a sick joke to be told that raising awareness is the solution to the mental health crisis, when you have been or still are on the coal face of that crisis.

Our advice is to take a minute and think about how you can be sensitive to those that feel like R U OK Day is a slap in the face and how you can help to make sure that it is more than a day for awareness.

The Lack of Education About How To Respond When Someone Isn’t OK

The idea of not knowing how to respond when someone says they are not okay is extremely daunting for a lot of people. The thought of not having the right resources to direct them to or the right words of encouragement or comfort is enough of a reason for a lot of people to not ask all.

This year, instead of shying away from the important conversations, educate yourself on where you can direct people and be ready to listen. Read more about how here.

Pressure To Speak About Your Mental Health To Anyone Who Asks

The passionate lead up to R U OK Day means that many people feel that the day is the only chance that they might have to speak up about their mental health before next year. Additionally, if you aren’t feeling okay it can be stressful to know that at any point on R U OK Day someone might ask you to open up to them and share how you have been feeling. 

Corporate Tickboxery

Themed breakfasts, morning teas, BBQ’s and “personal” emails from the CEO are all staples of a corporate R U OK Day strategy. And, while it is super encouraging to see companies make an effort to get the conversation started, sometimes these efforts come across as transparent and performative, leaving people feeling even more alone.

It’s Just One Day

While it is admirable to see so many people get around the cause on R U OK Day, it is important to remember that people can be struggling on any day of the year and to check in regularly with yourself and your loved ones.

If this article has raised any mental health issues for you, the TIACS support line is available Monday to Friday, from 9AM - 5PM on 0488 846 988. Find out more at tiacs.org

14 comments


  • Thanks for understanding it’s not an easy time for some people, and for flagging the need for those conversations to become more everyday rather than just annually.

    Hannah Moloney on

  • Nicely written, and I totally agree.
    If you asked someone you suspected might be doing it tough “are you hungry,” you’d better be ready to feed them. In my experience, it takes several efforts and quite some time for someone to accept an offer or an ear.
    RUOK raises the awareness and it competes with many worthwhile campaigns for attention and support, but like with a hungry person, asking without means or intent to follow through is cruel and can be devestating.
    A three word slogan is a start, but as you noted, for the most vulnerable, it’s a slap in the face. GB.

    Tom Allen on

  • Hi Guys,

    I have your shirts and I have RU Ok posters out the front of the house. My initial reaction was …… Bullshit…. RU Ok day is a great org and the day is a great iniative….. but your 5 statements have opened my eyes to other ways of looking at things. While I will still encourage RU Ok day to rasie awareness, when asked to speak I will also discuss the things you raise.
    Thank you for opening me up to considering another side to things.
    David

    David Morieson on

  • Please send the men’s shed in Newborough information about the project

    Kevin. Coade on

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