Australia’s most recognised suicide prevention campaign, R U OK Day, could be having a negative impact on the people most needing support, according to one WA-based mental health organisation.
Leighton Bradfield, CEO of 20talk, a mental health advocacy organisation run by young people, said the nature of the open-ended question and lack of follow was problematic.
“My concerns around programs like R U OK Day is the lack of follow through in terms of what’s the next step,” he said.
“It’s people’s lives, we need to be careful about how we take the next steps after we recognise that there is a problem.”
He said he went to a service station on R U OK Day and noticed the slogan could be found everywhere, including the t-shirt of the lady serving him.
But he didn’t think it was the right situation to ask such a personal question.
“If I asked her or if she asked me, it would just be a short conversation.
“It can be quite patronising for the seriousness of what we’re talking about here.
“I think it’s just a bit unfortunate that they’ve stuck with the name R U OK Day, which is the problem in itself,” Mr Bradfield said.
However, psychologist Kim Cullen believed suicide prevention methods such as raising awareness were working.
“The more we normalise mental health conversations and reduce negative stigma associated with mental illness, the more help-seeking behaviour we’ll see from those in need,” she said.
Ms Cullen believed national campaigns such as R U OK Day were a “step in the right direction”.
“We need to reach out when we can look as an outsider and see that they are not doing particularly well and they might not know that they aren’t,” she said.
“If someone is struggling and they are not speaking up it means that they are struggling in silence.”
Ms Cullen believed it was the younger generation who were the most “depressed and anxious in history”.
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