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Act, belong and commit: a big focus on mental health

Introduction by Croakey: World Mental Health Day, and World Mental Health Week in some jurisdictions, have provided a big focus on mental health issues over the past week or so, including at Croakey’s @WePublicHealth rotated Twitter account, where Associate Professor Christina Pollard tweeted on behalf of the Act Belong Commit campaign (see post below).

We have heard and seen much over the past two years about the impact of the pandemic on mental health in Australia, and globally.

That impact has now been quantified, with a recent article in The Lancet reporting that people living in countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, and especially females (more often impacted by social and economic disruption, as well as family violence) and young people, have been most affected by the burden of major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders.

The study, by researchers from The University of Queensland’s School of Public Health, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research and Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (University of Washington), is billed as the first to assess global impacts of the pandemic on major depressive and anxiety disorders, quantifying the prevalence and burden of the disorders by age, sex, and location.

It estimated an additional 53.2 million cases of major depressive disorder globally, up 27.6 percent, and an additional 76.2 million cases of anxiety disorders globally, up by 25.6 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research was funded by Queensland Health, the National Health and Medical Research Council and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

In another first, Australia’s first National Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy has been released, developed by the National Mental Health Commission as part of the Federal Government’s Long-Term National Health Plan.

It says this is the first time a mental health and wellbeing strategy has been developed with a focus on children from birth through to 12 years of age, as well as the families and communities that nurture them.

The report has a strong focus on the social determinants of health – although it doesn’t mention the climate crisis and its existential risks for young people.

It talks, however, about the impact of social and economic policies that “fail to adequately address unemployment, poverty, educational attainment, racism and discrimination, and limit access to healthcare and other financial and social supports”.

It notes this disadvantage may be further exacerbated by geographical location and by significant collective trauma as a consequence of domestic, sexual and family violence, forced migration, or forcible removal of children from their family and culture of origin.

See below for a selection of tweets from @WePublicHealth last week, on the Act Belong Commit campaign, including great resources to watch and read.


Christina Pollard tweets:

What is Act Belong Commit? Find out here.

We encourage people to ‘commit’ by volunteering, helping others, learning new skills or setting a personal challenge – to feel good about yourself, improve self-confidence, self-esteem and enhance mental health.

Challenging leisure activities and mental health: are they more beneficial for some people than for others? Positive association was strongest among individuals not employed or studying as well as individuals feeling less challenged at work/school.⁦

We welcome this statement from @RogerCookMLA announcing three year funding to @HealthwayWA totalling $855,000 to support mental health and wellbeing through the @WACountryFL WA Country Football League.

We recognise the power of football and its unique ability to connect people to help communities to thrive. WA Football Commission & Channel 7 featuring our Ambassador Adrian Barich: see how footy is good for mental health.

Governments are getting very interested in what keeps people mentally healthy.

Why not have your say in this @WAGovernment survey: https://mhc.wa.gov.au/wellbeing-survey. We can promote through our networks.

Engaging in the arts has such potential to promote health and social and emotional wellbeing. Consider the Salutogenic model https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/48268

There is consistent evidence that social capital and community connectedness, physical and other lifestyle factors, individual attributes and CREATIVE ARTS are protective factors for mental and psychological wellbeing in Australian adults. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S2212657020302221

In his own words Daljit tells us how to @ActBelongCommit and lifelong learning. ‘Words to live by’ Storytelling Series

#WorldMentalHealthDay is a yearly awakening .. catalyst for more action.. check out the Mental Health ATLAS 2020 to see how we are doing around the globe: https://who.int/publications/i

“It’s not just the spend you are putting in and the structure of mental health programs but the way you deliver the programs – that is equally important,” Professor Paul Flatau said.

“We still have to provide the care in the right kind of way.”

The value of life long learning for mental wellbeing: Doris shares her ‘Words to Live By’.

Shared goals for mental health research: what, why and when for the 2020s. “The research goals presented here are the most pressing and potentially tractable that could be accomplished within a decade or two.”

A study: Volunteering among older lesbian and gay adults: Associations with mental, physical and social wellbeing.

Such a clear description of the value of volunteering: Shelley – ‘Words to live by’ Storytelling Series.

Public health professionals can contribute to advocacy for mental health and build relationships with like-minded folk by joining @_PHAA_ and the Mental Health Special Interest Group.

Want to see advocacy in action? Check out @MentalHealthAus submissions.

Australia’s first Blueprint for Mentally Healthy Workplaces has been released and NMHC is seeking your feedback on which elements of the Blueprint resonate with you and your organisation, and where it can be improved.

Again.. “The economic case for investment in mental health is strong: for every $1 invested in scaled-up treatment for depression and anxiety, there is a $4 return in better health and productivity”. From The Lancet.

Protective behaviours for mental and physical health. A study: Formal social participation protects physical health through enhanced mental health: A longitudinal mediation analysis using 3 waves of the Survey of Health, Ageing & Retirement in Europe (SHARE).

“Possible such strategies could have a greater impact by specifically targeting individuals that are otherwise socially isolated. High levels of formal participation among those with relatively many close social ties may not be pragmatically beneficial.”  (See source).

Mental health promotion strategies may focus on promoting social leisure activities especially among unemployed or otherwise socially isolated groups, as well as among individuals that are not well connected at their workplace or school. (See source).


See Croakey’s archive of stories about mental health.

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