RUOK? Asking the question “are you OK?” encourages us to have regular, meaningful conversations about life’s ups and downs. So let’s start that conversation.

Twenty per cent of Australians have experienced mental illness over the past 12 months, and graduate students, in particular, are at a greater risk. A recent study from Belgium found that one in two PhD students experiences psychological distress, and one in three is at risk of psychiatric disorder (Levecque et al. 2017). It is important for us to realise that mental health issues are common, and to check in on each other, which can be as simple as asking “RUOK?”. This article provides a guide on how to respond if you ask someone if they are OK, and they say no.

Most importantly, if you are suffering, there is help available. All five of our CLEX universities offer free counselling services for both students and staff. The contact details are listed below.

Within CLEX, there are many of us trained as mental health first aiders. We cannot provide professional medical treatment, but we can assist someone developing a mental health problem by providing comfort and promoting recovery, and by providing support and information on how to get medical help. We can also offer help during periods of difficulties with coping mentally. We are available at any time to all within the centre, either in person or by email or phone. Our details are below.

All of our universities offer mental health first aid training so if you feel you could contribute by becoming a mental health first aider, please sign up for one of the courses.

Support available




University of Melbourne

University of Tasmania

CLEX mental health first aiders

A reminder that you should all nurture your physical and mental health and take breaks from your work by taking your annual leave. We all get 20 days annual leave/year as part of our scholarship/position. Please take it.