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Mental health message from Steph Cooke

Written by: The Hilltops Phoenix

Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke asks you to participate in RUOK Day.
Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke asks you to participate in RUOK Day.

September the 9th is RUOK? Day. This has been a year harder than most given the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the associated extended lockdowns.

The Murrumbidgee Local Health District has the third highest suicide rate in NSW. “Now as much as ever before, it’s important to check on your loved ones and ask R U OK?,” said Cootamundra MP Steph Cooke.

“This simple question has the potential to open up so many doors. It’s the first step towards giving someone who is struggling, a torch to light up a path forward.”

Research shows 22% of Australians are not asking if people are okay because they feel they don’t know anyone that needs their help.

Key signs are visible distress, anxiety, facing crisis and those who face difficult personal circumstances. There are those around you who may be struggling internally. A simple conversation can save a life, regardless if the signs aren’t obvious.

“These often can be difficult conversations to have but we all have a role to play in ensuring our loved ones, colleagues and peers seek help when they need it,” Ms Cooke said.

Local help has arrived for the Hilltops, with Wellways Australia receiving part of $8 million of state government funding to prevent suicides among high-risk groups.

The funding will cover their delivery of local and statewide social media campaigns to build awareness of support pathways available to young people in times of increased stress, suicide risk or isolation.

“As many know, the topic of mental health is very important to me. I have worked closely with Wellways who are part of the Murrumbidgee Local Response Group for suicide prevention and in partnership, have held a series of virtual and face-to-face mental health forums for the people in our communities, so I welcome this crucial funding at a time when it is needed the most.”

R U OK? is a suicide prevention charity, aiming to inspire and empower meaningful connection.

If you or anyone needs help, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

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