Every Day is RUOK? Day
As RUOK? Day passes for another year, an important mantra must stick in our heads: Every day is RUOK? Day.
Whilst a lot of their promotion is focused on the day itself, it's purely to centralise the attention; to focus it on one day for maximum effect. It garners greater publicity, leading to more awareness and ultimately a larger conversation.
Suicide prevention is an everyday effort. It's about caring, supporting and being there for someone. But what's wonderful about RUOK? Day is that it reminds everyone, each year, just how powerful those words are and empowers more people to check in with each other.
This was the first year I have ever participated in RUOK? Day in a workplace. My previous place of employment never did any thing for the day, which is a missed opportunity for the staff and students alike. I know that many people would have personally benefitted from greater empathy shown to them by colleagues who felt empowered to reach out and ask how they were. And, it is my firm belief that talking about mental health and suicide in a constructive and appropriate manner is important and necessary and will only lead to positive outcomes. Silencing the issue is dangerous. As I said in my previous article, only 52% of Australian employees believed that their workplace is mentally healthy and only five in ten believe their most senior leader values mental health. Every workplace should be discussing and promoting mental wellness as a part of their vision.
That said, I have been so encouraged and energised by the way that RUOK? Day has been embraced this year by companies that I was fortunate enough to be involved with. I spent two separate mornings with Revlon and Syngenta, speaking on the topic of suicide prevention, empathy and feeling empowered to check in with those around you. It is so refreshing to see workplaces come together to talk openly and frankly about mental health and suicide prevention. There is no better way to inspire a collegial and safe environment where each employee feels valued and understood; mental illness is not taboo in those offices. And this extends beyond these two companies to others that used my cards for the day. I hope to visit them at some other point.
I was also thrilled to see my check in cards and empathy cards sent out as part of a collaboration with Ginger & Me skincare for RUOK? Day. Beautiful packages, including my cards, were sent out to beauty influencers and social media personalities via the boutique PR agency, Coote Connex.
Whilst all of this is exciting, it's important to remember the purpose of the day; to reach out and check in with those around you. Just a simple conversation can save someones life. I take this very seriously. Too many times I have come far too close to losing Jared to suicide. Sometimes, it was just a matter of minutes that made the difference between life and death.
We shouldn't be losing one more person to suicide, and if part of that is just asking how someone is, we should be doing this every single day.