Putting some sizzle into mental health support

Senior Chaplain Paul Stuart, left, and Chaplain Jon-Paul Barry cook up a storm on the barbecue to support Defence members for R U OK?Day at HMAS Kuttabul. Photo: Able Seaman Benjamin Ricketts

Putting some sizzle into mental health support

There was a little bit of drizzle and plenty of sizzle when HMAS Kuttabul chaplains manned the barbecues in support of R U OK? Day on September 10. 

Senior Chaplain Paul Stuart said the need to look out for one another’s welfare and well-being was always important, but especially so in 2020 with the bushfire disasters followed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Of course everyday should be R U OK? Day, where we look out for one another’s welfare and well-being, but by supporting the official national day today we can highlight and demonstrate our support for each other,” Senior Chaplain Stuart said.   

R U OK? Day was started in 2009 by Gavin Larkin after his father, Barry, took his own life, and his desire for Australians to better look out for work-mates and family members’ well-being took off from there. 

The message for the 2020 event is ‘there’s more to say after R U OK’, and according to Senior Chaplain Stuart, this year’s theme is equally relevant for Navy people.

“Chaplains and other Navy support agencies are seeing greater numbers come through our doors looking for support with respect to stresses on their relationships, families, workplace, and mobility under Covid-19 restrictions,” he said. 

Musician Warrant Officer Mark Ham, who took time out with his colleagues to support the initiative and grab a sausage, said many people in the community had been impacted by mental health issues. 

“As Australians we like to say we’re okay, but we need to talk to people and really listen to make sure they are okay,” Warrant Officer Ham said.

“R U OK? Day is very important for me because I’ve had direct experience through people I know, but there are many others in the community that have also been impacted.”. 

Covid precautions on the day were guided by a ‘Covid marshal’, with social distancing practised by all patrons. 

The event was also used to promote the Defence Blood Challenge, which is being held from September 1 –  December 8.


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