DrinkWise launches mental health campaign

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To help support young people when it comes to their mental health and healthy coping strategies, DrinkWise and Federal Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman, with the support of ReachOut have created the ‘Never Have I Ever’ campaign.

This launch follows research from ReachOut which found a substantial increase in the number of young people feeling more negatively about the future, compared to before COVID (44% vs 20% pre-COVID), and how 8% may be turning to alcohol or drugs during tough times.

With this month’s floods throughout the Macquarie electorate, there is added concern that these feelings of stress and anxiety might be heightened for young people in the local community.

The new initiative uses the popular Never Have I Ever concept to ask questions that prompt young people to think about their mental health and to remind them that alcohol is not the answer to coping with those challenges. It reinforces that asking for help is ok and that support services are there to provide help and advice if needed.

The initiative, which doesn’t involve the consumption of alcohol, promotes young adults to consider difficult questions, including:

  • Never Have I Ever – Been worried about a mate’s mental health
  • Never Have I Ever – Started drinking to overcome anxiety
  • Never Have I Ever – Used drinking as a way to cope

DrinkWise CEO Simon Strahan believes getting young adults to open-up about their challenges is vital.

“We’ve seen more young adults worried about their futures given the impact of Covid and, more recently, the monumental challenges associated with the floods. While it has been inspiring to see communities rally to provide support, we want to ensure our next generation are taking active steps to help manage stress and anxiety.

“It’s critical that young adults know that professional help and support is available from ReachOut and other mental health services – and that trying to relieve stress and anxiety with drugs or alcohol is never the answer.

“This campaign is about prompting young adults to have a conversation with each other and highlighting that asking for help is a sign of strength.”

Federal Member for Macquarie Susan Templeman said the idea for connecting with young adults in a place where they gather came from her youth advisory committee. “This is an idea from young people, for young people, to encourage them to start a conversation with their mates that might lead to reaching out for help. What we all want them to know is that struggling with your mental health is not something to be ashamed of, but something that everyone can experience and should be spoken about.” Ms Templeman said.

With the support of the Australian Hotels Association and ReachOut, Never Have I Ever themed posters, coasters, bathroom stalls and bar mats will be displayed in 28 pubs, clubs and bars throughout the Macquarie electorate in regional New South Wales.

Australian Hotels Association NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green said the Australia Hotels Association NSW is happy to support this initiative to help encourage conversations about mental health.

“Pubs are integral to our local communities – and they are essential for rebuilding communities on the other side of a crisis – especially after COVID and the recent floods. We want to ensure that as people come back together at licensed venues, to socialise, have a meal, catch up with friends and family, they also use these opportunities to talk about local issues and support each other” said John Green.

ReachOut CEO, Ashley de Silva said research shows, “Young people have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and that for many their mental health has been impacted. Our communities are now facing new challenges, including the floods. The Never Have I Ever campaign is a timely reminder that ReachOut is a vital mental health support service for young people. This campaign is powerful because it calls out unhelpful coping strategies such as turning to alcohol.”

Macquarie Electorate Youth Advisory Group member, Caitlin Daley, said “Being a young adult is hard, but especially so in the last few years. The youth in the Hawkesbury area have had to cope with bushfires, flooding and COVID. We’ve missed a lot of birthdays, formals, seeing our loved ones and lots more. The pubs in the Hawkesbury area are a central spot for the locals, so to have a campaign that can remind us that we always have support is amazing.”

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