‘Never Have I Ever’ themed posters, coasters, bathroom stalls and bar mats will be displayed in 28 pubs, clubs and bars across the Macquarie electorate in NSW.

The new initiative, which is supported by the Australian Hotels Association and ReachOut, aims to help support young adults when it comes to their mental health and healthy coping strategies.

The ‘Never Have I Ever’ campaign was launched by DrinkWise and Federal Member for Macquarie, Susan Templeman.

It follows on from ReachOut research which found a substantial increase in the number of young people feeling more negatively about the future compared to before Covid (44 per cent vs 20 per cent pre-Covid), and that eight per cent may be turning to alcohol or drugs during tough times.

Anxiety and coping with stress are among the top topics of interest/relevance to young people.

With this month’s floods throughout the Macquarie electorate, which takes in the Hawkesbury region of Sydney, there is added concern 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.

Susan Templeman (left), Simon Strahan (right) with youth advisors Liam Holt, Tahlia Palminha, and Caitlin Daley.

It reinforces that asking for help is ok and that support services are there to provide help and advice if needed.

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.

“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.”

Susan Templeman said the idea for connecting with young adults in a place where they gather came from her youth advisory committee, pictured above.

“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.”

ReachOut CEO, Ashley de Silva said the 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.”

Macquarie Electorate Youth Advisory Group member Caitlin Daley said of the campaign, “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.”

The Australia Hotels Association NSW was in support of the initiative to help encourage conversations about mental health, according to Australian Hotels Association NSW Director of Liquor and Policing John Green.

“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,” he said.

“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.”

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