The new chief executive of Lifeline Albury-Wodonga is taking the helm with a people-first approach as the organisation records the highest number of calls in its 58-year history.
Ms Stacy Read has spent more than nine years with the local Lifeline service, most recently as its crisis support manager.
She brings with her to the CEO role an in-depth knowledge of the service's operations and its people, having also worked at the coal-face as a crisis support worker and trainer.
Ms Read's appointment comes after the resignation of Matt Burke, who had been with the organisation since 2018.
Together with the new chair of the board in Ross Passalaqua, Ms Read said she was focusing efforts on re-building and strengthening the organisation to fulfill its vision to be "the port in the storm" for those in crisis.
"The strength and stability of the organisation comes from its people," she said.
"Volunteers are and continue to be the backbone of Lifeline Albury-Wodonga; their wellbeing and the wellbeing of staff is my primary responsibility."
Mr Passalaqua said the board considered Ms Read an "outstanding individual" who knew the organisation exceptionally well and the "real need for an augmented service to meet the increased demand".
"We need to improve our visibility in the community and we need more people on more phones more of the time," he said.
Lifeline is taking more than 3000 calls a day, a 40 per cent increase on two years ago, as people grapple with the ongoing strain of COVID-19 lockdowns.
And while we are all in the same crisis, everyone is interacting with and experiencing it individually, according to Ms Read.
"The pandemic has forced people out of work, it's created huge amounts of anxiety as we have become physically isolated from our friends and families," she said.
"There are people who have never dealt with mental ill-health before and the psychological burden imposed by extended lockdown."
Ms Read urged everyone in the community to act as Lifeline ambassadors by reinforcing the message that "it's okay not to be okay" and to reach out for help.
"Take the initiative to reach out and connect with someone you might be worried about, whether that be family, friends, a work colleague or neighbour," she said.
Limiting your intake of COVID-19 information and choosing reputable news sources were also vital to preserving mental health during lockdowns, according to Ms Read.
"Pick your time to get updates, try to create a daily routine, get enough sleep and exercise and eat well," she added.