‘Are you ok?’
It’s a simple question, but a group of locals say it could change a life.
“They could be going through something and really wanting to share and in that moment when you asked, you provided that outlet for them. You never know,” Inverell Pathfinders media and promotions officer Noelia Trujillo said.
Pathfinders is just one of many local services keen to face mental illness head on. A dedicated committee is looking to ‘paint the town yellow’ in anticipation of RUOK Day on September 14.
“We know that the Inverell community has been affected by mental health, and mental illness in recent years,” Ms Trujillo said.
“We felt it was important to spread that message and get everyone together on the same page for the people in Inverell to know that they have someone, they have the support, that we support each other as a community as well.”
The national day was created to empower communities to connect with each other and support those who are struggling. It is a reminder for all to ask friends, family and work colleagues how they are. Local businesses are encouraged to wear yellow and distribute mental health information to show their support.
Benevolent Society manager of child and family services Jane Hynes said the service believed in the RUOK Day concept.
"It’s about bringing awareness and that community collaboration that we can look after each other, and just by asking a simple question, we can really make a difference," she said.
"If you actually have the courage to ask somebody, you don’t know what difference that will make for that person."
Ms Trujillo reminded locals that RUOK Day is just the start.
“It’s not just a one day thing, it’s an everyday thing, it’s a year-round thing,” she said.
“We’re hoping that after we paint the town yellow and after we have the RUOK Day event as a community, it will be something that more people will be comfortable asking and engaging in conversations and reaching out to each other to make sure we are ok.”
Ms Hynes said the Benevolent Society was keen to give a foundation to those who do ask the question, and will offer training opportunities for local businesses so they are well equipped when someone does admit they need help.
Local supporters of RUOK Day include HomesNorth, Pathfinders, the Benevolent Society, the Salvation Army, Inverell Family Youth Support Service, Hunter New England Health, Rural Outreach and Support Service, NSW Education, BEST Employment, Armajun Aboriginal Health Service, Staying Home Leaving Violence and Inverell Shire Council.
Are you OK?
If you’re struggling with mental illness, there are many ways to seek help.
- Lifeline 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467
- Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
- MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78
- Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service 1800 011 046
- All-hours Support Line 1800 628 036
- Defence Family Helpline 1800 624 608
- 1800 IM SICK 1800 467 425.