“Mental health awareness” is a phase that we have all become used to hearing in our workplaces and in the media, particularly as we approach R U OK Day in September and Mental Health Month in October.
Of course, the beauty of the term “mental health awareness” lies in its inherent vagueness as well as its ability to sanitise and transform a relatively taboo subject into one that doesn’t look out of place when it is plastered on brightly coloured posters or cupcakes.
For starters, when we talk about “awareness” of anything, we must accept that it is a concept that exists on a spectrum where acknowledgement of an issue sits on one end and action sits on the other.
And, while all positions on this spectrum are valuable, in modern day Australia, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who wasn’t at the very least conscious of the fact that mental health is an issue that is impacting individuals in every part of our our society.
Furthermore, the persistent messaging about awareness can be extremely painful for those who have either witnessed a loved one experience a mental health battle or experienced mental health issues themselves. To those who have lived through the apparent "mental health crisis", R U OK Day comes across as too little, too late.
So, below are a few ways to take meaningful action this R U OK Day.
1. Follow up with friends and family by going deeper than the initial "R U OK?" conversation.
2. Donate to an organisation that offers support for people who are doing it tough.