Are they really ok?
That’s a question you may have wanted to ask after a phone call with a friend. Or it may be a question you had hoped someone would ask you.
Awareness of mental health challenges is both everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Everywhere, because the challenges of the past 18 months have highlighted how important our mental health is with an exponential increase in people reaching out for assistance to mental health helplines and professionals.
And in a sense, it can feel like it’s nowhere, because anyone that has experienced anxiety or depression or struggled with mental health challenges anywhere on the spectrum, may feel very alone in their struggle.
Isolation and lockdowns, loneliness, job losses and financial insecurity, heighted stress, grief over loved ones lost, separation from families and support networks have contributed to many of us feeling overwhelmed, distressed and unsure of where to turn. The strain on our mental health has been more complex and varied than most of us have ever encountered.
What this prolonged season has shown us is the importance of ongoing, meaningful connection with others.
That’s why RU OK Day is never just about one day in the year. It highlights the critical need of real connection with people in our world every day of the year and how a simple question could in fact change the trajectory of someone’s day or even their life.
Many of us here in Australia are in the midst of an ongoing period of lockdown and as a church community, many of our locations have been unable to gather for several months. Without the ease of regular face-to-face catch ups, daily conversations at school or at church on a weekend, we have to be all the more intentional about checking in with the people in our world.
It does require effort, but the power of staying connected and regularly making time for a short phone call or Facetime or staying online a little longer after a meeting with that person, means that you’ll have a better sense of whether someone is struggling with something big or small, of if they really are doing ok.
If you or someone you know needs assistance, do not suffer in silence. You are not alone and there is help available to you. Reach out to our pastoral care team or call one of the helplines listed below.
Visit RU OK for resources and tips to engage in conversation.
*If you or someone you know is at immediate risk, please phone 000 (within Australia).
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Kidshelpline: 1800 55 1800
R U OK website
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1800 273 8255
Samaritans: 116 123