REACHING OUT: Mental health worker, Noelle Nevin says this year's R U OK Day provides regional towns a good opportunity to check in on your neighbours, relatives and friends who have been bravely battling through this prolonged drought period.
REACHING OUT: Mental health worker, Noelle Nevin says this year's R U OK Day provides regional towns a good opportunity to check in on your neighbours, relatives and friends who have been bravely battling through this prolonged drought period. Kate McCormack

Opening up conversation line; important in our driest days

AFTER spending 22 years of her life in Chinchilla, you could say Noelle Nevin has become rather attached to the community, through the good times and the dry.

Today is annual R U OK? Day, a national day of action dedicated to reminding everyone that every day is the day to ask, "Are you OK?” and support those struggling with life's ups and downs.

Ms Nevin, an occupational therapist and mental health worker, said ongoing drought and property hardships could make it difficult for regional people to open up initially because they might be coming to terms with an overwhelming sense of failure but she wanted to encourage the Western Downs community to use R U OK? Day as an opportunity to touch base with friends, family and neighbours to see how they were coping with their battles.

"The unfortunate thing about ongoing drought is it affects small communities like Chinchilla several-fold, farmers are under pressure, local shopkeepers and businesses feel the pinch and that, in turn, can affect local families and their day-to-day lives,” she said.

Ms Nevin said creating the right environment to open the communication lines was extremely important.

"If you feel like a colleague or family member has become distant or might be going through something, ask them to come and have a chat somewhere quiet and private, invite them for a cup of tea in the lunch room or the lounge room,” she said.

"No-one is going to feel comfortable opening up at their desk or computer.”

Ms Nevin also recommended people reaching out to such support lines as Lifeline or Beyond Blue if they were feeling like things were becoming too much to shoulder on their own but didn't feel comfortable sharing the burden with a friend.

"Problems always seem worse at nights for some reason.

"I have spoken to a lot of people who have called a help line in the wee hours and it's helped talk them back from the edge.

"But it's always a comfort to lighten your burdens with someone face-to-face and it's important to remember everyone is entitled to 10 free mental health appointments which you can arrange through your GP.”


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