R U OK? ambassadors, local mental health supporters and community members came together on the lawns of the council chambers for the Forster stop of the R U OK? Trust the Signs Tour on Thursday, July 11.
Held between 12:30pm and 2pm, the event was the second stop on a Nation-wide tour that aimed to equip the Australian public with the confidence and awareness to start a conversation with someone they were worried about.
With a giant yellow installation set up, community members were able to go inside and interact with educational silhouettes and signposts that guided them through what might be going on in someone's life and what they might do or say if they were struggling.
R U OK? community ambassador Mostapha Kourouche believed the message they were championing was simple but had the potential to benefit many lives.
"We want to empower people with knowledge of the signs someone is struggling, so they can trust their gut instinct and start a conversation that could save a life," he told the crowd.
"You don't have to be an expert, just a good listener and a good friend."
Mr Kourouche said there were three things people could look out for among their friends, family and peer groups to see if they needed help:
- What are they saying?
- What are they doing?
- What's changed in their lives?
From here, he believed it was important to trust your instincts and have the courage to start a meaningful conversation.
"Once you break that barrier and genuinely ask what's going on, that's when people really start opening up," he said.
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Deputy mayor Katheryn Smith said every member of the Forster community could make a difference.
"We have wonderful local service providers and health professionals. It's people like them and everyone who has these R U OK? conversations who are the unsung heroes," she said.
"Simply talking about these issues is a step in the right direction."
The Trust the Signs Tour comes in the wake of research released by R U OK? that found nearly two-thirds of Australians were not confident they could recognise the signs someone was struggling with life.
Of those surveyed, 41 per cent hadn't asked someone if they were okay because they weren't sure they knew the signs.
However, the organisation believed there was hope, with almost 49 per cent of people believing they'd be more confident starting a conversation if they knew the signs.
The tour will travel around 14,000 kilometres in the lead up to R U OK? Day on September 12, visiting every state and territory and stopping at 24 communities along the way.
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