Grammar Police beware! Today we all get immunity and can to cast off the oppressive shackles of English grammar and spelling to ask “R U OK?” We owe it to each other.
September 10 is marked annually for Australians as R U OK? Day, a day which the R U OK organisation hopes will call “on Australia to take a global lead in preventing suicide by making more effort to have regular, meaningful conversations with anyone who might be struggling” (see https://www.ruok.org.au/newsroom/details/2015/09/09/r-u-ok-calls-on-australia-to-take-global-lead-in-suicide-prevention)
September 10 also marks World Suicide Prevention Day, a matter close to the heart of R U OK founder, Gavin Larkin, whose father tragically took his own life in 1995.
To this mind, it seems that we in and out of the legal profession are all too aware of the mental health issues confronting Australia today, and the particularly damning statistics of the legal profession in which 1 in 2 are expected to experience depression or anxiety at some time, up from the national averages estimated at 1 in 4 on paper but 1 in 3 intuitively to many in the field. Yet awareness does not seem to be producing results. In the criminal law world in which Kernaghan & Associates operates, it is all too often that we meet many individuals (not necessarily clients) who suffer from these same illnesses.
R U OK Day is a means by which we can stop simply being “aware” of the issue in the hopes that something will change, and rather drive that change ourselves. It is one thing to be aware of the mental health issues facing our society, it is another to proactively check in with those close to us, or those that we work with. Asking R U OK may not bring forth a surge of emotion or unsuspected revelations of mental illness, but it does serve as a gentle reminder that people in our lives care, that we are happy to receive those surges of emotion if they come, and it might just be the chink in the armour that helps someone open up to the next person to ask.
With Sydney Swans star Lace ‘Buddy’ Franklin making his own battle public yesterday and the AFL standing firming behind him, the time has never been more ripe in Australian society to ask R U OK?