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Making minutes matter

Our Director Jaelea Skehan reflects on 2017 and prepares for 2018.

Last year was a big year for our team at Everymind. We formally (and finally!) rebranded from the Hunter Institute of Mental Health to Everymind, and then celebrated our 25 year anniversary at an event in December with staff and a selection of our funders, supporters and partners.

What I learnt at the end of last year was that celebrating a milestone is important, and rather than just looking back it was a motivation to reflect on what is important in our work and gave me renewed energy to look forward.

To prepare for one part of a speech I delivered at our corporate lunch in December, I did some research into what 25 years amounts to. From a numbers perspective, there are 9,125 days in 25 years - or 6,275 working days (assuming we actually get weekends and public holidays off). 25 years also equates to 13 million 140 thousand minutes.

And while calculating minutes may seem extreme, we know that minutes can really count in our line of work.

In fact the theme for World Suicide Prevention Day 2017 was “Take a Minute, Change a Life”. I remember doing a talk for Roses in the Ocean in Brisbane last year, talking to a room of people about what can be done in a minute to change a life and save a life. And the answer is a lot.

Much of what our Institute and others in the mental health and suicide prevention space need to be able to do is to cut through some of the complexity for our community so we can build their agency to tackle these issues as a family and as a community.

So what can be done in a minute? These are just a few ideas.

  • In a minute we can check in with ourselves and pay attention to what is really going on. In the same way we will be able to hear a clunk in our car within a minute, we need to be also able to pay attention to the ‘clunks’ in ourselves.
  • We can pay attention to the clunks in those around us – often our gut will tell us something is not alright – but it really only does take a minute to as R U OK? To start that conversation that could change things for someone else.
  • We can check in with those around us who may be off work or away from the sporting team because they have been impacted by mental illness or suicide.
  • We can start a conversation in our workplace and make a commitment to review what is being done and perhaps decide to do something different.
  • We can start a conversation with our children – so that the messages they get about mental health and suicide are not coming only from TV programs or what their friends share on social media.
  • We can call out all forms of stigma and discrimination where we see it – online, in a café, at work.

In every minute that matters – we can decide to do nothing, or to do something; whether it is in your personal life or professional life.

And my summary would be that what we have built here at Everymind is over 13 million minutes of something. Our challenge is to ensure that those minutes of something matter. That they count. That they are not just the right things to do, but done in the right way as well.

So as I reflect on 2017 and prepare for 2018 I am looking forward to working with our team, our partners and our community to make the minutes matter.

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Published: 18 January 2018

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