R U Ok?

By Rev Mark Dickens
Chaplain at Prince Alfred College

Posted in Faith,Family


By Rev Mark Dickens, Chaplain at Prince Alfred College, is an accredited instructor with Mental Health First Aid Australia.

Due to the experience of depression, Gavin Larkin’s father took his own life in the mid-90s. In 2009, Gavin wanted to see something positive come from his father’s death. It was that year which also marked the inauguration of RU Ok? as an Australian suicide prevention organisation. Adopting the principle ‘a conversation could change a life,’ its aim is to see people reach out to those they are concerned about so that support can be offered to those who are struggling or vulnerable.

While the second Thursday in September has become the organisation’s national day of action, proponents are keen to ensure the awareness is maintained all year round.

How often is it that along with the greeting ‘hi,’ the question is asked ‘how are you?’ and the response is ‘fine thanks,’ when really the answer is something other than fine? Its common usage can lead to uncertainty whether the ‘hi, how are you?’ is a genuine enquiry into the other person’s well-being or not. That person may decide it is easier to respond with a ‘fine thanks,’ than take a chance on saying how they really are. When I have a sense or am aware all is not well, I (and others I know) will subsequently ask ‘how are you really?’

No, more than ever is a time for us to be asking ‘RU OK?’

The extraordinary times we find ourselves in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, work and communicate. In one way or another everyone has been impacted. How this has been received is experienced differently. Some people’s well-being and mental health will have been shaken or still may be depending on what lies ahead, considering how quickly things can change as has particularly been experience in Victoria.

Some of the identified effects include increased anxiety, a fear for one’s health, psychological distress, social isolation, interruption to employment or study and the impact on normal daily routine and functioning. Add to this the grief for those who have lost loved ones as a result of contracting the virus.

That pandemics are not common heightens the fear and anxiety, responses when they do occur; even more so when the threat and impact personally affects us.

While it is easy to be troubled by uncertainty and the unknown, it is important to hold on to the knowledge that this will pass. There are some actions we can take to see us through this period of time:

  • Take one day at a time
  • Focus on what is in your control and look to manage those things
  • Ask for help if you are struggling. Help and support is available
  • Practice self-care alongside of caring for those closest to you
  • Reach out to your neighbour, remembering the response of Jesus to the question, ‘and who is my neighbour?’

In closing I would like to offer this prayer:

Eternal God, Spirit of Life,

in the midst of these uncertain and

troubling times,

where our sense of control and

good order is diminished,

may we find within ourselves the

resolve to adapt and be flexible.

Let not fear and anxiety

predominate our thoughts and

determine our actions;

but, with calm and balanced minds

approach these days ahead.

We hold onto the knowledge that

while life will be different, this

time will pass.

May we let go of worry

and embrace hope.

As we care for ourselves, we

commit to care for each other.



If you or someone you know is in need of crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au/get-help





More from Faith

Subscribe to receive Faith articles by email >


Comments (3)