Mental Health Group Shares ‘The Power of Okay’

“Are you okay?”
mental barrier

It can be an important question, and one that See Me, a mental health advocacy organization based in Scotland, believes more people should ask.

In a frank public service video titled “The Power of Okay”  that’s being shared around the globe, the organization takes aim at the stigma, shame and isolation that so often surround mental illness and encourages people to speak up as a way of being there for each other.

Ian Greenhill and Jordan Laird, co-founders of the production company Something Something, created the video for See Me as part of the group’s public outreach. It takes the form of a poem, written and performed by Greenhill and based on experiences in his own life.

“We just want a discussion about mental health to be started rather than people being scared of saying the wrong thing and just not saying anything,” Green explained on the See Me website. “The simple start-off point of 'okay' seemed really powerful.”

In the video, Green uses unreserved language to talk of feeling stuck inside his head and wondering if he is the only one.

I know I’m young and body able
How come I feel so unf---ing stable?

There is the “tick, tick, tick” of his thoughts, the guilt for not being more upbeat, and the struggles on the job.

What if at work I tell the Big Cheesy
Who already doesn’t make my life that easy
Tell him I like my job but my thoughts are getting on top of me
Hope he doesn’t want to send me away for a full frontal lobotomy
I know by law it’s confidential
But will that stop the whispers
Pssst, guess who’s mental?

But then comes his insight.

One thought I’ve thought is that maybe most people think the same thoughts I think
And that I should ask them how they feel
Instead of worrying about my thoughts for real
Maybe most people have this period
A peak
A dip
And realize that life is a series of episodes, not one long clip
And maybe in the omnibus of your life today is a s--- one
And you just need someone to know where you’re coming from
A nod, a smile
Are you okay?

And maybe in the omnibus of your life today is a s--- one
And you just need someone to know where you’re coming from
A nod, a smile
Are you okay?
Because in my thoughts and thoughts and thoughts I’ve thought about asking you
And I hope when my s--- day comes, you’ll return the favor too

First released in the fall of 2015, the video has recently soared in popularity, thanks in large part to a posting on Reddit that prompted hundreds of comments. Among them was this: “As someone who has gone through these exact feelings including attempting suicide I think this is a fantastic piece of health education. Getting more people to understand mental health and remove the stigma attached is very tough. This video is a great way to start combating that, but also showing others who have these feelings and emotions that they aren't alone in that.”

See Me, which describes its mission as ending “mental health stigma and discrimination, enabling people who experience mental health problems to live fulfilled lives,” expressed gratification that the video had found an audience.

“Having so many people reach out to each other after watching it shows the message is connecting with people in a compelling way,” program manager Lisa Cohen noted on the organization’s website. “There is real power in asking someone if they are okay. Right now people all over the world are talking about mental health, supporting each other and finding out they are not alone in their experiences.”

Posted on January 21st, 2016

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