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Not enough: The problem with mental health initiatives like R U OK Day

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Last year, on R U OK? Day, my friend – I'll call her J – was not OK. I knew she was not OK. Her other friends knew she was not OK. Her family knew she was not OK. Crisis counselling services and her GP knew she was not OK. J herself knew she was not OK.

A few days later, J was dead. Never finding the support she needed in Victoria's mental health system, she killed herself.

I've always had problems with R U OK? Day, which takes place today, but this year the day will be particularly hard, falling as close as it does to the anniversary of my friend's death. It reminds me of so much that is wrong with our approach to mental illness – the idea that all a chronically ill person needs is a good cuppa and a chat and they'll be right as rain.

To be fair, the no doubt well-meaning organisers of R U OK? Day do acknowledge the need for assistance to go beyond staff room chinwags. But even the notion that anyone could just "contact a professional" and get it all sorted is completely spurious. Treatment for mental health conditions can take a lifetime – there is no........

© Canberra Times