A free coffee and a reminder to look out for one another greeted customers who stopped by Fresh at 110 for their daily brew on Thursday morning.
An RUOK Day initiative, local organisation HealthWISE shouted the morning rush in coffee shops throughout the region in an effort to reach out to both customers and small businesses struggling with the pandemic.
"With the additional pressures COVID 19 has placed on communities, families and individuals; looking out for one another is more important than ever," HealthWISE mental health team leader Tanya Hague said.
"There are many additional challenges with isolation, businesses unable to open, and many people working from home with additional responsibilities of home schooling."
Along with the free coffee, customers were offered resources on how to start a conversation on mental health with friends and family, and information about services that can help.
Armidale coffee shop owner David Lawton was thrilled to once again join the initiative, after a widely positive response last year.
"Everyone was surprised, and I think it just helped start those conversations around things that some people may not have front of mind," he said.
Having personally been affected by suicide, David said the loss drove home the importance of being able to have open conversations with friends and family, and to have the ability to ask about their mental health.
Fresh 110 was also running a barbecue and selling cupcakes to support the cause.
Tanya said RUOK Day was about taking action and engaging in meaningful conversations by asking colleagues, friends or family the simple question: 'Are you OK?'.
"Education and medication are very important in managing mental health and suicide, but ultimately it is all about human connection. We need to invest in humanity with our time, empathy and understanding," HealthWISE lived experience worker Donna Boughton added.
She said you don't need to be a doctor or counsellor to help someone dealing with emotional pain or feelings of hopelessness.
"Deep listening without trying to fix the other person is very powerful and goes a long way towards helping someone who is considering taking their life."
Having the courage to ask someone if they are thinking about suicide can be vital in helping them find a way forward, she explained.
"You will either feel silly for five minutes because the person of concern was just having a bad day, or you will feel pretty good that you just may have saved a life! Remember to seek extra support, and if the person has a plan, get them to the hospital."
HealthWISE has long been dedicated to improving health in the community and offers a range of services across the region, including mental health clinicians, lived experience, Aboriginal outreach, drought and bushfire relief.
"I just commend HealthWISE with everything they do on a local level. I think it's amazing, and as a community we really appreciate the support," owner/operator of Bendemeer's Beez Kneez Café Tiarni Heemskerk said, after they also took part in the coffee giveaway.
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.
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