The New Question

Last time I was in hospital (read psychiatric clinic, psych ward, acute care, whatever you want to call it) I started a campaign for a new question.

Where I live, the usual greeting is some variant of: “Hi! How are you?” However, if you’re staying in a psych ward and the answer isn’t “shithouse”, perhaps you’re in the wrong place.

So I thought long and hard and came up with the question: “What’s new?”

It’s just as innocuous as “How are you?”, just as non-specific, and invites either a meaningless brush-off response – “nothing!” – or a meaningful one – “some fuckwit ate the food I’d put in the fridge to eat after ECT”, “I haven’t cried all day” or even “the purple man who was following you yesterday has left, you’ll be pleased to hear”.

So if you are one of the over 225,000 Australians who are admitted for psychiatric care* may I suggest you go around asking the New Question “What’s new?” Just a suggestion.



* According to “Mental Health Services In Brief“, there were over 222,500 admitted patient mental health‑related separations reported in 2009–10, accounting for 2.6% of all hospital separations (p. 14)

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