Trolleys roaming: R U OK day hits the streets to start conversation

ALL GOOD: Sue Bonar, Lynda Bowtell, Jason Crisp, Penelope Jo Matchett, Ann Dib and Denise Martin, sporting yellow for R U OK? day, with their portable station. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH 0913MSruok

ALL GOOD: Sue Bonar, Lynda Bowtell, Jason Crisp, Penelope Jo Matchett, Ann Dib and Denise Martin, sporting yellow for R U OK? day, with their portable station. Photo: MAX STAINKAMPH 0913MSruok

You couldn’t miss them. 

Even with your eyes shut, the searing brightness of the canary yellow in the September sun could be seen from miles away.

Volunteers from mental health groups from all over Orange, pushing trolleys draped in – you guessed it, canary yellow – roamed the streets on Thursday, manned by volunteers checking in on anyone and everyone they encountered. 

Thursday was R U OK? day, a national event aimed at starting the conversation around mental health and helping people reach out to friends, family and even strangers to check in on mental well-being. 

Chairwoman of the Orange Region Suicide Prevention Network Ann Dib said the day was about empowering people to check in on others.

“It’s about telling people they can ask, that they can go to their friend over there and say ‘mate, I’ve noticed you’ve been a bit down lately, are you okay?’ that’s the whole thing about this day,” she said.

It is a really tough time in Western NSW at the moment.

Jason Crisp

“It’s showing them where to get help and showing that you can (get help).” 

Western NSW Local Health District director of mental health and drug and alcohol services Jason Crisp said the day had been “incredibly positive”. 

“Today I’ve been one of the crowd, wandering the streets of Orange and talking about their own mental wellbeing and how they interact with other people,” he said.

“It’s been wonderful. I’ve put 12,000 steps on the pedometer, people weren’t afraid to ask questions, they were really engaged.”

He said the trolleys draped in yellow R U OK banners “created mobility” and allowed volunteers to get around the city to be proactive in talking to people instead of the static bases of previous years. 

“I’ve done most of the CBD today, up and down Summer Street and we’ve done most cross-streets in the CBD, the shopping centres,” he said.

“I went to my hairdressers and had a quick little chat with them and it was a barbers so it was full of men and they all stopped and listened and it was great to reach all those people at once.

“It is a really tough time in Western NSW at the moment with lots and lots of people impacted on by the weather, we’re looking at addressing some of that with farm gate counselling but it’s something we’ll look at another time.”

If you’re struggling, head to www.ruok.org.au/findhelp or call 13 11 14.

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