By Andrew McKaysmith, Synod Writer and Content Creator.
The message behind R U OK Day, which is on Thursday, September 8, is to encourage anyone struggling with things happening in their lives to chat with a friend or reach out to a service, such as Lifeline.
Chris Ikin is the Office of the Synod’s Health and Wellness Coordinator, and he said R U OK Day is very relevant to the church.
“We want to help people and provide resources that can be easily accessed,” he said.
“We’ve got the Sickness and Accident Assistance Plan (SAAP) for Ministers, the wellness hub, and Benestar for Synod employees and Ministry agents.”
The church’s Ministry agents are at the coalface and are tasked with managing complex scenarios.
Chris emphasised the importance of supporting Ministry agents as they perform their duty which is central to the church’s mission.
“A Minister’s role is dynamic, and they face complicated situations, which can be stressful,” he said.
“The last thing that Ministers think about is themselves as they are always serving their congregation and helping people.”
The church’s mission involves community outreach programs such as Lifeline, run by UnitingCare. Lifeline provides a 24-hour crisis support service and reports that over a million Australians reach out for support annually.
Statistics on Lifeline’s website report that 8.6 Australians die every day by suicide, which Chris said affects all demographics.
“World Suicide Prevention Day is a timely reminder the person you could be sitting next to in the pub or even your granddad can be struggling.”
“It’s always OK to ask R U OK.”
World Suicide Prevention Day is on Saturday, September 10.