I was reading a recent interview with seven times world surfing champion Layne Beachley where she recounted a time when her husband, Kirk Pengilly (one of the multi-talented musicians from the uber successful band INXS) asked her that simple little question “R U OK?” (Lambert, 2022). She described that question as the “absolute circuit breaker” which gave her a safe space to confidently express her feelings of depression.
What’s that you say? Someone with seemingly “everything” isn’t happy all the time?
Each year one in five Australian adults are formally diagnosed with a mental illness – a wide range of conditions defined as a “clinically diagnosable disorder that significantly interferes with a person’s cognitive, emotional or social abilities” (COAG, 2017)
To put that into context, in an organization like Best Practice Software with over 250 staff, there could be 50 team members coping with all sorts of issues as a result of mental ill-health. Anxiety, Depression, Affective Disorders, Substance Abuse etc – all very common, sometimes life-long challenges, but thankfully largely treatable and manageable.
But while 1 in 5 is the official “diagnosed” statistics, the reality is that EVERYONE will experience some degree of mental illness, stress, unhappiness or negativity during their lifetime. It is a myth that everyone is happy all the time.
Mental illness and impairment doesn’t carry the “stigma” as it did in the past. It is just a part of being human.
The R U OK? Website has a wealth of resources and links to services who can help anyone in distress themselves or concerned about someone they know.
It provides some guidance on how you can confidently be that “safe space” to someone who is doing it tough. If you are ready to ask that question – R U OK? – please remember that you are not a therapist – you are just a concerned friend who is prepared to listen without judgement.
Chief Relationship Officer at Best Practice Software
COAG. (2017). The Fifth National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. Canberra, ACT, Australia: https://www.mentalhealthcommission.gov.au/Monitoring-and-Reporting/Fifth-Plan.
Lambert, C. (2022, September 7). “Listen up, it helps”. Courier Mail “Smart Daily”, p. 1.