Esperance gets on board R U OK? Day

Esperance LifeSPAN committee members Claire Tully and Meg Sims enjoy an 'R U OK?' Day coffee at Esperance Museum Village Cafe. Photo: Jake Dietsch.
Esperance LifeSPAN committee members Claire Tully and Meg Sims enjoy an 'R U OK?' Day coffee at Esperance Museum Village Cafe. Photo: Jake Dietsch.

Community members, local schools, organisations and businesses have helped promote mental health awareness.

R U OK? Day was held nationally on September 12, with Esperance residents getting involved in a variety of ways.

The day encourages people to check in on each other and ask the question; 'are you okay'.

For the second consecutive year, Esperance LifeSPAN handed cups displaying 'R U OK?' signs to businesses as well as stickers and cards with pointers on how to start a conversation.

LifeSPAN committee member Meg Sims said the initiative had grown substantially from last year, with more businesses involved and more events held around town.

Mrs Sims said the day aimed to promote mental health awareness all year round.

"It's not just about asking 'are you okay?' today. It's actually trying to adapt and adopt that any day and everyday you see someone struggling," she said.

Fellow-committee member Claire Tully said she believed the day would also give people the chance to say how they were truly feeling.

"As a society we are so good at saying 'I'm fine'. It's not only about asking and meaning it, but being able to answer truthfully," she said.

Esperance SES unit leader and VMR commander Glenn Churchland, St John community paramedic Paul Gaughan, DFES peer supporter Sharon Spencer, St John volunteer John McQueen and Esperance Volunter Fire and Rescue SErvice member Keith Rymer. Photo: Jake Dietsch.

Esperance SES unit leader and VMR commander Glenn Churchland, St John community paramedic Paul Gaughan, DFES peer supporter Sharon Spencer, St John volunteer John McQueen and Esperance Volunter Fire and Rescue SErvice member Keith Rymer. Photo: Jake Dietsch.

In the lead up to R U OK? Day, Esperance SES/VMR hosted a gathering with all emergency services invited.

Members of Esperance Police, St John Ambulance, DFES and various bushfire brigades attended the event on September 10.

DFES peer supporter Sharon Spencer said the gathering was about promoting mental well being and spreading the message that it's okay to seek help.

Ms Spencer said emergency services faced specific mental health challenges due to their work.

"With the recent search for Thomas Rae, a lot of the volunteers knew him so it becomes personal," she said.

"In a community like ours, it's really hard because you might know the person."

However, Ms Spencer said the work of DFES peer supporters was not limited to trauma and could involve personal issues outside of emergency responses.

For more information on R U OK? click here.

  • If you or someone you know needs urgent support please contact the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.