Coffee lovers across the region were surprised with a free cup of their favourite drink on Thursday morning.
For the third year in a row, local organisation HealthWISE shouted the morning rush in 23 cafés across the New England North West and southern Queensland to give locals a break and a reminder to look after one another, as part of RUOK Day.
This year included Moree's Brooker Trading, Goondiwindi's Larder Coffee Shop, The Croppa Creek Store, North Star's The Vicarage and the Country Dust Café in Warialda.
RUOK Day is a national initiative which encourages Australians to check on friends and family by starting a conversation on mental health.
HealthWISE mental health clinician Anne Edwards said simply asking "Are you ok?" and really listening to the answer can make a big impact on someone who is struggling.
"It can make a huge difference, because when people aren't feeling well, or they're feeling suicidal, it can be really difficult to actually reach out to other people," she said.
"The stresses of the last few years means most people at one stage or another have been feeling really vulnerable and not feeling ok."
Country Dust Café owner Angie Plain was proud to have partnered with HealthWISE for the last three years to promote the need to talk and listen to mates, friends, family and the community at large about mental health.
She felt that it was time we treat anxiety and depression the same way we treat physical ailments, and feel no shame visiting the doctor or taking medication to treat symptoms.
Restored by two local farmers, this was the first year The Vicarage Café was able to participate.
Manager Tracey Williams said it was a wonderful initiative, and was pleased to help promote the RUOK Day message.
She said many people have been struggling with day to day pressures and the rising cost of living, and so this was a great opportunity to check in with one another.
Carolyn and Todd Bellman of the Croppa Creek General Store agreed that many community members are feeling the pressure due to rising fuel and living costs. The couple have promoted RUOK Day for the past three years, and aim to provide information and a listening ear to locals and visitors alike.
RUOK recommends four key steps: ask the person if they're ok, listen with an open mind, encourage action by urging them to commit to something that might help their situation and check in with the person afterwards.
"Asking 'Are you ok?' - it doesn't turn you into a doctor or anything like that," Anne said.
"It's about listening to the answer and then encouraging that person to seek appropriate help, be it their GP or looking for a referral to an organisation like HealthWISE for psychological support."
To learn more about the services HealthWISE offers in your area, visit healthwise.org.au. To learn more about how to have a conversation about mental health, visit ruok.org.au.
Call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for 24/7 crisis support. Always call 000 if a life is in danger.
Support is available for those who may be distressed. Phone Lifeline 13 11 14; 1800-RESPECT 1800 737 732; Mensline 1300 789 978; Kids Helpline 1800 551 800; beyondblue 1300 224 636.
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