My company, Mental Health Movement, had the opportunity to work with Australia’s largest company, BHP. Individuals out there can have their opinions about the company, but I have been brought up to treat people how they treat me, and this company has done nothing but great things from my experiences with them. Their slogan is “Resourcing the Future”. For me, this is open to interpretation and is not just applicable to the resources they mine and export and the individuals they employ.
Myself and Mental Health Movement were contracted by BHP to action a mental health initiative in conjunction with “R U OK” day. This is Australia’s national mental health awareness day, which promotes starting a conversation with loved ones, friends, work colleagues, people close to you or anyone that may be doing it tough.
This day is a very positive initiative that I believe is a huge platform to plant a seed in the mind of every Australian to start a conversation, or check in on someone to see if they are ok.
I have read a lot of posts on social media and comments made by people that this day does nothing and that “R U OK” day needs to be every day, not once a year. I believe they have missed the point. It is a day designed to assist individuals and communities with stepping outside the paradigm that has created this negative social stigma, which stops individuals from seeking help or talking about their struggles and emotions. It stops us from talking about the adversities life throws at us that may affect our mental health, or may contribute to poor mental health, mental ill health and sometimes mental illness.
This paradigm and social conditioning has created our current reality in this mental health space that has fuelled the current statistics and the national crisis, which is suicide. Myself, I was brought up and conditioned to toughen up, get over it and be a man. This conditioning was a catalyst for the depth of my struggles, as I would not put my hand up and seek help; I thought it was a sign of weakness or not being a man. This led to self-sabotage, addiction, anger, and relationship breakdowns, and ultimately not doing myself justice in being the best version of myself.
To break or create a habit, it takes 21 days, and you need to first move from the stage of pre-contemplation to contemplation. To transition between those 2 stages, you cannot be pushed, forced or convinced. It has to be a totally natural, voluntary decision of the individual making the transition.
One of the most common and difficult questions to answer, in my experience of now working in the mental health space and speaking to over 17,000 individuals since the creation of my company, Mental Health Movement: How do you help someone that doesn’t want to help themselves? What is the answer? I still believe there is no exact answer to this question. I believe the answer is a process. Through awareness, education, empathy, listening, support and consistently starting the conversation by asking simple questions to check in with the individual.
This is where I make my point on what I believe is the essence of what “R U OK” day is all about. This day plants the seed. The power of social media is the water, and this will now provide the opportunity and platform for every individual to begin the evolutionary process of changing their conditioning, their paradigm and their perception that has fuelled the mental health crisis not just in Australia, but the world.
Paul Kelly sings the song, “From little things, big things grow.” Wayne Bennett’s rugby league game plans were based around the principle of simplicity. We read the quote, “A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step” and “We can’t change the world, but we can be that change in the world”. This simple initiative takes that first step, providing individuals the opportunity to be that change and grow into that big thing. Doing it all through a simple process. Asking someone, “R U OK?”
If you think that this initiative is going to be the answer for the change that is needed in this space, you are just unaware of the true problem at hand. But that is ok.
The “R U OK” day initiative is the opportunity that contracted me with BHP and gave myself and Mental Health Movement the opportunity to speak to over 1500 individuals throughout the Port Headland community.
I shared my own personal story of domestic violence, abuse, my NRL career, injuries, addiction, loss, mental illness and career transition. I also shared the 6 main practical points that have changed my perception and what has helped me in my mental health journey.
Providing this service, I started that conversation within the workforce, engaging in many meaningful conversations, implementing mental health plans for individuals and giving individuals the confidence to seek help in an industry that has been a part of the paradigm of not talking about your mental health.
The people I met, worked with and helped have changed me in a very positive way. They have given me more confidence in what I’m doing with Mental Health Movement. The BHP workforce embraced this initiative in a very positive way, and it was an absolute pleasure to be a part of it. They have used the “R U OK” day initiative exactly how it was meant to be used and have planted the seed within their workforce to drive change within the culture; something that will have unprecedented growth that will reap positive rewards in the future.
It is a massive step forward for the mental health space when the biggest company in Australia is resourcing the future with initiatives like this.