This is the way it goes does it not? Someone asks how you are – and you answer, “I’m good.” I mean your life might be falling apart at the seams, but the answer you give will still be a ‘I’m good’ wont it?
Each year we recognise R U OK? Day to remind us to reach out to each other to ask this question, but I cannot help but feel the irony in spending a day dedicated to a question we all ask of others as a common greeting. And maybe therein lies the problem.
How are you? may be a common greeting but are any of us really asking the question? And furthermore, are any of us really answering truthfully.
This year’s theme for R U OK? Day is “I’m here to hear” and it is about thinking as to where we ask the question. Have we asked it genuinely, in a space/place where it can be answered genuinely?
We all know that unless you trust the person asking, unless you think the person genuinely wanting to engage and is there for the entire answer, and unless the conversation takes place in a safe environment, there is zero chance any of us are going to reach out with the truth.
Over the past year, we have heard how the pressures of farming are taking their toll on growers’ mental health. And given the everyday pressures associated with running a business, rapidly rising input costs, compliance and climatic challenges and an ever-changing industrial relations landscape it is no wonder mental health is a recurring theme.
There is a lot of wonderful things about living and working in rural Queensland, but it also has its unique challenges. If strength, fortitude, and resilience were muscles, then growers would give Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for his money. The rollercoaster ride of being human demands that we all go through ups and downs and even the most finely tuned mental health athletes amongst us get injured at times.
R U OK? Day is a fabulous initiative and one that absolutely would have saved many lives. I can’t help but imagine how many more could be saved if we all considered the timing around asking the question.
Throughout the year R U OK? delivers free resources that increase the willingness and confidence of all Queenslanders to recognise the signs someone is struggling, start a genuine conversation and lend appropriate support. The Mateship Manual, a simple guide with practical tips, is just one of these resources, and available to download for free from www.ruok.org.au/mateship-manual
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, contact: Lifeline Australia 13 11 14, or beyondblue 1300 22 46 36.