This RUOK day 14th September, we shine a spotlight on the 70% of women impacted by the criminal justice system who have and are experiencing mental illness. With the barriers faced in the community by having a criminal record, mental health can be further impacted and employment discrimination has a massive negative impact on self-worth. Success Works Executive Officer, Eleni Psillakis, shares her personal experience and asks, “How can we continue the conversation beyond the initial question?“
When my mental health was on the decline, I was aware that I was not the same, but did not recognise what was wrong. All I knew was that I couldn’t let anyone know I was struggling. I felt I had to appear that I was on top of it all.
So, if anyone was to ask me “RUOK?”, I would’ve said, “I am fine”. And then thought I had to try harder to not show I was suffering.
How can we continue the conversation beyond the initial question? If someone says they are fine, but you suspect they are not, perhaps say so in an appropriate manner. Use “I statements” such as:
“I care about you.”
“I’ve noticed that you don’t seem like your usual bubbly self.”
“I’ve noticed you are not doing the things you usually enjoy.”
If someone says they are not ok, empathise with them and say something like:
“I am so sorry to hear that. What has been going on? How can I help you?”
Make sure you have time to continue the conversation before you ask someone “RUOK?”. This shows you really do care.
Over 70% of women impacted by the criminal justice system have and are experiencing mental illness. With the barriers faced in the community by having a criminal record, mental health can be further impacted. Employment discrimination has a massive negative impact on self-worth.
It is clear that societal attitudes toward women with a criminal record need to change. When a woman re-offends due to not being able to gain employment or a roof over her head, in order to be fed and housed in a prison cell, this is a clear indication that our society is NOT OK.
Please contact Lifeline on 131114 if you find you are in need of help
If you are a job-seeker The Success Works program will help you to develop a pathway to self-reliance and empowerment through transitional support, professional development workshops, professional styling advice, and provision of suitable clothing and mentoring both before and after securing employment. This pathway also includes an introduction to employment opportunities offered through our employer partnership program. If you are recently released or you have been in the community for some time, we would like to hear from you.
Employers are currently looking for people like you!