THE Ararat Suicide Prevention Awareness Group hosted its third annual R U OK? Day event on Thursday to improve awareness about mental health.
The group set up a stall on Barkly Street between 11am and 2pm, with R U OK? Day merchandise and resources for anyone wanting assistance. Lions club members cooked a barbecue.
Local cafes and businesses also got on board, donating money from coffee and cupcakes sold, as well as displaying R U OK? balloons and posters.
The event was part of a bigger strategy for the group, member Linda Nyikos said.
"The money we raise today will go towards providing assist training, safe talk training, resilience training and other suicide prevention programs for the local community workplaces, volunteer groups and community members," she said.
"We also hope to run our first memorial walk around the lake. We're hoping we can run that in March next year and have that as an annual event."
Ms Nyikos said she had personally accessed mental health resources to make sure she was okay.
"It's okay to say that you're not doing okay," she said. "I'm actually not okay at the moment, but I've got a plan in place and I'm going off tomorrow to go and get myself some treatment.
"It's about not being afraid to ask family, friends or even a stranger you see in the street who you think maybe isn't travelling too well ... just not being afraid to ask: 'Are you okay?'"
Lauren Dempsey is another group member who also works as a health promotion officer at Grampians Pyrenees Primary Care Partnership.
Ms Dempsey has helped organise R U OK? Day events in Ararat for several years.
"This year we're working with local businesses and service groups to promote what the day is about," she said.
"They will have merchandise for sale and resources available, as well as donation tins.
"Money raised will go to the Ararat Suicide Prevention Awareness Group to assist with training for mental health first aid and other training.
"It will be dependent on what the community needs."
She said it was important that people reiterated the message of R U OK? Day throughout the year.
"That's what we really try to promote - that this day is just a reminder," she said.
- If you, or someone you know needs support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14, Kids Help on 1800 55 1800 or Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467.
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