Maitland Mayor Loretta Baker's mayoral minute asking her fellow councillors to sign a national charter pledging their support to a unified approach to mental health and suicide prevention should be commended.
Mental illness is something that affects a lot of people - one in five aged between 16 and 85, according to the Black Dog Institute. Suicide is also the leading cause of death for Australians between 15 and 44 years of age.
Even in our entertainment story on page 10 of today's edition, the musician featured in the story speaks about losing her mother to suicide.
Our community leaders should be leading the charge when it comes to trying to improve this issue.
But ALL of us have a responsibility to help remove the stigma that surrounds mental health and suicide. And that starts with being there for people in need and sending a message that it's okay to ask for help.
This is something that should happen year-round, but in the week of World Suicide Prevention Day (Tuesday) and R U OK Day (Thursday), it is a good time to remind readers to stop and check on those around them.
So many people suffer in silence and sometimes a question to ask someone how they are going can make a real difference.
R U OK offers some tips when it comes to asking this simple, yet not always easy question. The first is to be prepared, the response to the question may be "no, I'm not" and it's important to be ready to take that response on and continue the conversation.
If they person is not okay, listen to them without judgement and encourage them to explain what is making them feel the way they do.
And then support them to take action - things like "what's something you can do for yourself right now? Something that's enjoyable or relaxing?" or "How would you like me to support you?"
Sometimes people want help, but don't know where to start.
Here are some free support services that can assist -
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Sexual assault helpline: 1800 737 732
Mens Helpline: 1300 789 978
Kids Helpline: 1800 551 800
And finally, follow up with the person to see how they're going after a few weeks.
Care and concern can mean the world to someone in need.