R U OK? Day was celebrated throughout Ararat today, both in the main street and at Ararat College.
People were asking the question across the country, reminding Australians that every day is the day to connect with those we care about and start a conversation that could change a life.
Lauren Dempsey, Health Promotion Coordinator at Grampians Pyrenees Primary Care Partnership, was helping promote the day in Barkly Street by selling merchandise and spreading the message, alongside the Ararat Suicide Prevention Awareness Group.
Dempsey has recently climbed Mt Kosciuszko to raise money for R U OK? and continue her mission to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.
“I think it’s really important to raise awareness and it’s a good day to remind people to ask ‘R U OK?’ and just to stop in and check-in with one another. R U OKAY? is really every day,” she said.
“We (Ararat Suicide Prevention Awareness Group) run the R U OK? events every year and get local businesses on-board too, and share our support that way.”
“All the funds we raise come back to the group and then we promote that into local training – so mental help, first-aid, suicide prevention training.”
Many local businesses got involved, including Fred & Bet’s who donated 50 cents from every coffee and 50% of the money made through selling R U OK? Day cupcakes.
“Hannah – my boss – is fantastic, she’s always into helping the community and especially the R U OK? Day,” Melanie Denney said.
“Fifty cents from every coffee, she’s very proud of donating that, and she’s also just done 300 cupcakes for the cause as well.”
The 300 cupcakes sold out before the shop even opened this morning through pre-orders. Hannah initially made 100 but had to triple that number due to popular demand. All up, Fred & Bet’s raised $738.10 for the local awareness group.
Forages Cafe, Bendigo Bank, Waack’s Bakery, Baker’s Brew and Deb’s Diner also got involved with the day.
Yesterday, the team from Sing It Out – including Singer/Songwriter Taylor Henderson – shared their messages of support and personal experiences with mental health whilst in Ararat.
The Sing It Out program promotes good mental health in youth through a combination of music and awareness of services like Beyondblue.
“The beautiful thing about R U OK? Day is allowing people to express themselves because some people are going through things that you might not even dream of happening to yourself – you don’t know what’s going,” Henderson said.
“Everyone’s got their own battles that their fighting: small, big and every other size in between.”
“It’s just allowing people to take that first step to express themselves and actually speak up verbally about what’s going on. I think that’s an awesome message to be part of.”
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-Producer & Anchor
-Founder of AC News in 2017