It really is ok to not be ok, none of us should feel uncomfortable with experiencing the full gamut of regular human emotions.
Independent of mental health statistics, at one point or another, each of us will have a moment of ‘not being ok’. The causes of not-being-ok are infinite, and if we were to examine every individual reason or cause that leads to someone ‘not being ok’, we will be here for a long time.
The current uptake in the proclamation of this sentiment; “it’s ok to not be ok” “it ain’t weak to speak” “speak up” etc; is usually related to the discussion of where you may be sitting in the broad spectrum of ‘mental health’, letting people know that it’s ok if you have feelings, and ok to talk about them.
The truth is, it’s also ‘ok’ to have a broken leg. It’s ‘ok’ to have cancer. It’s ‘ok’ to suffer horrific injuries in a car accident. The difference is, we don’t expect people with these conditions to sort out their own treatment, we don’t expect the laymen around them to be the ones to fix their ailments, and we don’t demand that they get better on their own.
Hospitals, Doctors and Allied Health professionals take responsibility for making sure that people get better. They are accountable to an outcome based on the person they are treating getting better, not based on whether there was an opportunity for the person to talk about their illness, or whether some mild attempt was made to make them feel better about the fact that they were sick or injured in the first place.
We understand that some chronic illnesses like cancer can take a very long time to treat, that cancer goes into remission and that it may come back again. It may come back and manifest itself in the same way as it appeared last time, or it may be different. It can affect people of every age, sex, race, socio-economic status, and as a result – our universal healthcare system provides an avenue for treatment, as often as required, for as long as required. If it takes 20 specialists to diagnose and treat your cancer, then so be it. If you are treated for cancer for 15 years, rather than people looking at the clock and the balance sheet and exclaiming;
“Gee, that’s pretty expensive, and it’s taking a long time, why is it taking so long? Don’t you think you should have had it sorted by now?”
We see people who are battling 15 years of cancer treatment as inspirational, as strong people for enduring all of the uncertainty, setbacks, challenges and horrible feelings that go along with being treated long term for their cancer.
Anyone who has attempted to help a person with limited resources, and long-term mental health issues, knows that no such responsibility is taken when people are struggling from non-medical causes of disadvantage. There are no institutions that take responsibility for ensuring that people who are struggling and have been struggling for a long time have access to everything necessary to get them to a place where they are ‘in remission’.
The Just Be Nice Project is the only organisation in the world that is focused on building infrastructure that takes those in need and works with them until they are housed, employed and have good mental health. Just like cancer, some of these people require 15 years of assistance to get there. They may relapse and fall away from the path they are on. They may have secondary, tertiary or quaternary complications that manifest during the process, they too should be dealt with along the way.
The Just Be Nice Project is committed to building the infrastructure beyond the posters and the conversations. Into the nitty gritty of ensuring those in need are supported and safe on their journey back to agency and positive mental health. Moving beyond phone lines and good intentions into active, material help for people and those close to them who want to help. Making sure that there are places to stay, people to help and pathways to outcomes, regardless of how you come to need help. Supporting those on the phones so that they have places to send people to continue to get the material help they need alongside the emotional support they may be getting.
It’s ok to not be ok, but how we treat the people that aren’t ok, is not ok. We need to do more than listen, more than just talk, more than just ‘raise awareness’, more than simply tell the most vulnerable amongst us to step up and speak more; especially when we don’t put the same effort into making sure that when they do speak up, we can take responsibility for ensuring that they’’ll get all the help they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it.
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Just Be Nice
A collection of articles relevant to pursuing the effective execution of altruism in the search for equality of opportunity.