There is no doubt it has been a tough couple of years, and people on the Eyre Peninsula are being encouraged to ask each other if they are really okay during any day of the year.
Thursday, September 9 is R U OK? Day, an Australia-wide movement built to inspire and empower everyone to connect with people in a meaningful way and start conversations with those around them who may be doing it tough.
In Port Lincoln a community event was held at the Port Lincoln Yacht Club between 8.30am and 12.30pm which invited people to come down, enjoy a coffee and sweets and have a discussion with other community members and local service providers.
Representatives from organisations including Headspace, Centacare and Positive Future Self were on hand to provide information on services available and the central message of ensuring people check in on people to make sure they are doing okay was shared.
Mentally Fit EP community development officer Lain Montgomerie said it was a great opportunity to bring people together to have a discussion, although any day of the year was R U OK? Day.
"I think the important thing is we do ask the question, you can't judge a book by its cover so be prepared to ask it again," she said.
"What we try to promote all year round is don't be scared to ask the question, there's support out there for knowing what to say."
Mentally Fit EP has promoted services such as QPR (Question. Persuade. Refer.) training which provides people with tips and tools to help ask questions and support someone else.
Mrs Montgomerie said while it was important to check in on other people, people should remember to ask themselves if they were okay.
"We can get so caught up in our lives that we can forget to ask ourselves if we are travelling okay," she said.
"Asking other people is important but asking yourself is equally important."
Oceanside Health and Wellness were one of the service providers who attended and owner/director Yvette Leech said it was a great chance to bring people together and provide information on health services available in the community.
"Our mission statement is creating positive connections, and that's what today is all about, and letting people know we are there for them," she said.
R U OK? Day was created by national harm prevention charity R U OK?, and chief executive Katherine Newton said it gives people the chance to open up about how they are feeling.
The theme of this year's national day of action is 'Are they really OK? Ask them today'.
"None of us are immune to life's challenges whether that's a relationship breakdown, financial worries, work pressure or, sadly for some, the loss of a loved one," Ms Newton said.
"Sometimes it won't be obvious that someone is having a hard time but we know that when we ask early and in a genuine way, we can help someone who might be struggling feel connected and supported, long before they are in crisis."
She said everyone experiences ups and downs, and it was important to make asking if someone is okay a part of their everyday.
"We want to emphasise that an R U OK? conversation is not only for when someone is visibly distressed or in crisis and remind everyone that their support can make a difference for anyone who is struggling."
While these conversations can be difficult to have, R U OK? has developed free resources so people can not only check in with their loved ones in a safe way, they can also respond appropriately if someone says they aren't going well.
Registered psychologist and suicidologist Ann-Maree Fardell Hartley said these tools can help build confidence in supporting each other.
"Everyone has a role to play in ensuring the people in their world feel connected and supported," she said.
"You don't have to be an expert, just a good friend and a great listener."
Find resources about how to have these conversations, and more information, at www.ruok.org.au
Support is available
If you or someone you know is struggling, there are services available.
Lifeline: 24/7 hotline - 13 11 14. Text messaging service from 12pm to 2am - 0477 13 11 14. www.lifelife.org.au
BeyondBlue: 24/7 hotline - 1300 22 4636. Online chat 1pm-12am at www.beyondblue.org.au
Suicide Call Back Service: Call 1300 659 467.
Mentally Fit EP: (08) 8683 0072 or message on Facebook @MentallyFitEP
Regional Access: 1300 032 186 or access online chat at saregionalaccess.org.au/phone-and-online-counselling/
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