Mental Health Facts

Mental Health Facts are the foundation of The Push-Up Challenge. Each day of the Challenge, an important Mental Health Fact is shared, which corresponds with the daily push-up target.

The Facts are sourced from peer-reviewed studies by qualified researchers, and undergo a stringent fact-checking process.

Check out the Mental Health Facts from The Push-Up Challenge 2024 below for a taste of what you can expect during the Challenge. You can still share these Facts to start important conversations, boost mental health awareness and help smash the stigma.


Day 24: 219 push-ups

Today’s target is 219 push-ups, for the 219 hours spent together that it takes to form a new close friendship, according to research from the US.

A strong social network helps foster a sense of belonging and community, and feeling accepted by our friends can help with our self-esteem and confidence. Having friends around to talk to and support us through challenging periods can also offer much-needed perspective, reassurance and guidance.

Friendships help to combat loneliness, which is one of the leading contributors to poor mental and physical health. Loneliness and social isolation place large amounts of stress on the body, and are associated with hypertension, heart disease, anxiety and depression.

Thankfully, when it comes to friendship, quality over quantity is the key - and having just one friend can act as a protective factor against these outcomes.

And as with all relationships, friendships are give and take – so being a good mate to your friends when they’re going through a tough time will help support their mental health, too.

Is one of your mates going through a rough patch, or showing possible signs of a mental health challenge? Being a supportive friend is important, but sometimes it’s hard to know how to bring things up.

R U Ok? Has developed the ALEC framework, a guide that teaches us how to support others. In a nutshell this looks like: ask, listen, encourage action, and check in.

Social media & mental health

Day 23: 213 push-ups

Today’s target is 213 push-ups, for the 21.3 million social media users in Australia.

A 2023 study reported that 21 million Australians actively engage in social media, representing 81% of the population. Each day, the average Aussie spends more than two hours a day on their socials – and this number has grown 6% from the previous year.

It’s important to understand that while social platforms provide us with connectivity and entertainment, they can also affect our mental wellbeing.

Studies have explored the relationship between social media and mental health, revealing both positive and negative effects.

For many, social media serves as a tool for communication, self-expression, and access to valuable resources. However, excessive usage, unrealistic comparisons, and online harassment or bullying can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and depression.

Some ways to find balance and support your mental wellbeing without giving up your phone include mindful engagement, capping your use, responding to cyberbullying, or doing a digital detox.

We have teamed up with Screen Sanity to provide you with The Social Media Playbook mini - a practical workbook designed to help teens and adults use social platforms thoughtfully and intentionally. 

Remote mental health

Day 22: 193 push-ups

Today’s target is 193 push-ups for the 193 hospitalisations for intentional self-harm reported per 100,000 residents of very remote areas.

Research shows that rates of hospitalisation for self-harm are increasing for people who live in Very Remote areas. During 2021-2022, the rate of hospitalisation for intentional self-harm in residents of very remote areas was nearly twice that of residents of major cities. Studies also reveal that deaths by suicide are higher for those living in rural and remote areas.

Around 7 million people live in remote and rural areas of Australia – this equates to 28% of our population. There are a number of factors that can influence mental health for people living outside metropolitan areas – these include isolation, financial stress, working long, irregular hours and the impact of natural disasters.

For those Australians living remotely who experience mental health challenges, seeking and receiving treatment and recovery can be more difficult, particularly as mental health services are often not easily accessible without travelling long distances.

In addition, the proportion of First Nation’s people increases with remoteness, from 1.8% in major cities, to 32% in remote and very remote areas. A lack of culturally safe services and support can be a barrier to receiving adequate mental health care.

Support is available for Aussies living in rural and remote areas. The National Rural Health Alliance provides helpful factsheets for a range of services, including rural mental health services and patient assisted travel schemes.

Rural and Remote Mental Health, a not-for-profit organisation that’s working to address the mental health gap between major cities and the regions, runs workshops teaching people living in rural and remote Australia about mental wellbeing.

For people living outside metropolitan areas, telehealth services can be a good option, and Medicare rebates are available through the Better Access Program.

  • 13YARN (13 92 76) offers the opportunity for First Nations peoples to talk with a trained Lifeline Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter over the phone.
  • Young people can get free support from headspace on 1800 650 890 9am-1am AEDT every day.
  • Confidential, free crisis support is available 24/7 from anywhere in Australia via Lifeline. Phone 13 11 14, text 0477 13 11 14 or access webchat via the Lifeline website.

High school & mental health

Day 21: 186 push-ups

Today’s target is 186 push-ups, for the 18.6% of Year 8 students experiencing severe symptoms of anxiety.

A recent study on the self-reported mental health of Australian Year 8 students has found that nearly 1 in 5 Aussie teens in Year 8 are experiencing severe symptoms of anxiety.

Levels of distress in this age group are significantly higher in girls than boys; with the data revealing that significant psychological distress was reported by 16.6% of boys in the study, compared to 42.0% of girls.

Students who identify as gender or sexuality diverse are at a much higher risk of experiencing mental health challenges. Results showed that LGBTQIA+ Year 8 students are over three times more likely to have engaged in self-harm, and four times more likely to experience serious suicidal ideation.

For many people experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety, talking about how they’re feeling is often one of the first steps to feeling better. Often, starting the conversation is the hardest part.

If the young person doesn’t want to talk, let them know you’re always here if they feel like chatting, and be sure to check in with them again soon.

If you’re a young person in distress and you don’t feel like there’s someone in your life you can open up to, headspace is an excellent resource dedicated to providing early intervention mental health services to 12-25-year-olds. Need to talk to someone? headspace is available 9am – 1am AEDT every day on 1800 650 890.

Need some pointers on how to get into a better headspace? Better sleep, strong relationships, physical exercise, and limiting alcohol and drugs have been shown to improve mental wellbeing.

headspace provides youth-focused support for mental health, wellbeing, and general health online and through its network of over 150 communities across Australia. Find your local headspace service via the headspace website.

Kindness & mental health

Day 20: 170 push-ups

Today’s target is 170 push-ups, because doing at least one act of kindness every day for 7 days in a row may boost our happiness, according to a recent study.

According to this study, being kind to others, being kind to ourselves, and actively observing the kindness happening around us, can all boost our happiness.

The more acts of kindness that we do, the greater the increase in happiness we’ll feel. So, why is being kind so good for us? Acts of kindness toward others can strengthen friendships and protect us against feelings of isolation by creating a sense of belonging and connection.

The effects of being kind have even been observed on a biological level, with research showing that partaking in, or witnessing, random acts of kindness can significantly reduce our levels of stress hormones.

Kindness isn’t just something we should dish out to others - being kind to ourselves can strengthen our sense of identity and help to improve our selfesteem.

Being kind to yourself could look like letting yourself off the hook, rather than beating yourself up when you make a mistake at work, or just having a lazy Sunday arvo nap on the couch (when you’ve done that week’s push-ups, that is!).

Day 19: Rest day

Our third and final rest day before one last push for better mental health this week. 

Use today to pat your dog, catch up with a mate, or launch a search party for the sock you lost last week.

Your mind and body are hopefully feeling the goods after coming this far. Let's do this. 


Day 18: 200 push-ups

Today’s target is 200 push-ups, for the 20.0% decrease in mortality that is associated with the health and wellbeing benefits of volunteering.

That’s right – research shows that when we volunteer, we live longer. We often think of volunteering as an activity that helps others, however it’s also been shown to have a positive impact on our own wellbeing.

In one study, people who volunteer were shown to have increased activity in the parasympathetic nervous system (aka our body’s natural ’calm’ response). Volunteers also showed less inflammation markers, suggesting that lending a hand plays a role in boosting our immunity.

Science reveals that helping others is good for our mental health, too. In fact, helping those around you can actually make you happier.

Scientists call this phenomenon the ‘Helper’s High’ – because it has been found that giving to others in a selfless act of service induces positive emotions in the giver.

Multiple studies have shown that engaging in moderate levels of volunteering – about 2 hours per week – is associated with fewer depressive symptoms, compared to people that don’t volunteer.

Studies also suggest that the warm, glowy feeling that can accompany giving back has something to do with the way it helps us feel more connected with others.

So why not lend a helping hand and increase the good feels all round? Head to Volunteering Australia’s website to search for volunteering opportunities in your local area.

Lifeline chats

Day 17: 195 push-ups

Today’s target is 195 push-ups, for the average number of chat conversations answered per day by Lifeline in 2022-2023.

Did you know that Lifeline offers more than phone support? Lifeline’s support services also include 24/7 text and online chat with trained Lifeline Crisis Supporters.

In 2022-23, Lifeline answered a total of 71,327 chat conversations with Aussies experiencing psychological distress. This equates to an average of 195 chat conversations per day.

Lifeline Crisis Chat can help anyone who is going through a crisis, feeling overwhelmed or having suicidal thoughts.

If you or a loved one wants to chat, you can access Lifeline’s chat service via the Chat With Us page on the Lifeline website. Once you click Connect With Lifeline, you can choose to remain anonymous if preferred.

When you reach out via chat, a professional crisis supporter will listen, chat without judgement and provide a safe space to discuss your needs, worries or concerns. They will also work with you to explore options for more support if needed, once your chat has ended.

If you’re in need of crisis support, you can also reach Lifeline 24/7 via text on 0477 13 11 14 or via phone on 13 11 14.

Loneliness/Social connection

Day 16: 175 push-ups

Today’s target is 175 push-ups, for the 17.5% of Australians who say they are experiencing severe loneliness.

Research shows that 1 in 3 of us are experiencing loneliness, and 1 in 6 of us report facing profound loneliness.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that loneliness has been defined as a subjective unpleasant or distressing feeling of a lack of connection to other people, along with a desire for more, or more satisfying, social relationships.

Data shows that Aussies who feel lonely are 4.6 times more likely to experience depression, and 4.1 times more likely to experience social anxiety. Those of us who are lonely are also more likely to exercise less and experience problematic social media use and aren’t as productive at work.

Studies show that participating in paid work, caring for others, volunteering, being an active member of a sports or community group, or owning a pet can help when we’re feeling lonely.

If you or someone in your life has experienced a big life change recently, like a relationship breakdown, losing a loved one, moving countries, job loss or becoming a parent, they’re more at risk of feeling lonely.

Loneliness can feel overwhelming, but taking small steps can gradually ease loneliness and bring more positivity into your life. Building more interactions into your day, and week, can be transformative, providing emotional support, a sense of security, and the comfort of knowing you’re not alone.

Anxiety & mental health

Day 15: 172 push-ups

Today’s target is 172 push-ups, for the 17.2% of Australians aged 16-85 who have experienced an anxiety disorder in the last 12 months.

Have you ever had a racing heart and sweaty palms when you’re running late for work? How about thoughts spiralling for 20 minutes about whether you said the wrong thing to that guy serving your coffee?

If you live with anxiety, you’re certainly not alone. Anxiety is the most common mental health condition – in fact, it affects 17.2% of Aussies aged 16-85 each year.

Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed or worried. It’s normal to feel stressed or anxious when we’re under pressure, but these feelings usually subside once the stressful situation has passed.

Anxiety disorders typically involve feelings of tension, distress or nervousness, which don’t go away or may not have a clear cause. If you have anxiety, you may avoid situations you believe cause these feelings, potentially even limiting your interactions with the wider world and impacting the way you live.

If you’re experiencing anxiety, there are strategies you can use to help manage it. Mindfulness, slow breathing, exercise (push-ups, anyone?), spending time in nature and a healthy diet are some things that research shows can help.

There are effective treatments for anxiety, including therapy and medication. If anxiety is an issue for you, talk to your GP to explore the treatment options best for you.

Lifeline chats

Day 17: 195 push-ups

Today’s target is 195 push-ups, for the average number of chat conversations answered per day by Lifeline in 2022-2023.

Did you know that Lifeline offers more than phone support? Lifeline’s support services also include 24/7 text and online chat with trained Lifeline Crisis Supporters.

In 2022-23, Lifeline answered a total of 71,327 chat conversations with Aussies experiencing psychological distress. This equates to an average of 195 chat conversations per day.

Lifeline Crisis Chat can help anyone who is going through a crisis, feeling overwhelmed or having suicidal thoughts.

If you or a loved one wants to chat, you can access Lifeline’s chat service via the Chat With Us page on the Lifeline website. Once you click Connect With Lifeline, you can choose to remain anonymous if preferred.

When you reach out via chat, a professional crisis supporter will listen, chat without judgement and provide a safe space to discuss your needs, worries or concerns. They will also work with you to explore options for more support if needed, once your chat has ended.

If you’re in need of crisis support, you can also reach Lifeline 24/7 via text on 0477 13 11 14 or via phone on 13 11 14.

Keeping active

Day 14: 150 push-ups

Today’s target is 150 push-ups, for the number of minutes of physical activity per week recommended for good health.

Have you done your push-ups today? Adults should be active most days, preferably every day. The Australian Physical Activity Guideline’s recommend that we get in a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, or 75-minutes of vigorous physical activity per week, for good health.

The benefits of moving your body are not only physical – studies have identified clear mental health benefits. When you exercise, your body releases feel-good neurotransmitters, endorphins, which are known to reduce feelings of pain and stress and increase feelings of pleasure - literally boosting your mood.

In fact, growing scientific evidence suggests that aerobic exercise can be used to prevent and treat depression. One study suggested that just three 45-minute exercise sessions per week is enough to provide anti-depressant benefits to mental health.

The impact of exercise on mental health was recently demonstrated in a study involving 1.24 million people, which found that people who participated in exercise had less days of poor mental health per month. The biggest differences were associated with team sports and forms of aerobic exercise.

Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to help, either. Moderate activity like fast walking, cycling, steady lap swimming, golf, mowing the lawn, or anything that causes a rise in heart rate and a bit of a sweat is the best way to give your mind and mood a boost. Did we mention that push-ups count?

Young people in psychological distress

Day 13: 128 push-ups

Today’s target is 128 push-ups, for the 1.28 million young people aged 15-24 who were estimated to have experienced psychological distress in 2021.

This number equates to 42.3% of all young Aussies aged 15-24 experiencing psychological distress. This is a large increase on the last available data, collected in 2011, which reported 18.4% of young people experiencing psychological distress.

The most recent National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing reports a significant increase in mental illness among young Aussies. In 2007, 26% of people aged 16–24 had a 12-month mental illness; this figure had jumped to 39% by 2020-2022.

The data shows that this change is largely driven by increased rates of mental illness among young women. The prevalence of 12-month mental illness among females in this age group was 30% in 2007, compared with 46% in 2020–2022.

For young people and their loved ones, some warning signs for common mental health problems include anxiety, low or high mood, hopelessness, irritability or anger, changes in eating, weight, or sleeping patterns, self-injury, hallucinations, strange beliefs, or memory and decision-making difficulties.

These signs do not necessarily confirm a mental illness, but if they are present, it’s time to speak up and make an appointment with a school counsellor, GP or psychologist to assess what’s going on.

If anyone talks about suicide or ending their life, it’s important to take it seriously. Please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 for confidential crisis support for yourself or a loved one. You can also text Lifeline on 0477 13 11 14 or chat via the Lifeline website (all available 24/7).

headspace is available on 1800 650 890 9am-1am AEDT every day.

Day 12: Rest day

Great work so far everyone. We certainly do love our push-ups here at Push-Up HQ, but it's true, you can get too much of a good thing. So take time to chill, chat with friends and family, or do something a bit awesome today.

Push-ups are back tomorrow. 

Mental health prescriptions

Day 11: 180 push-ups

Today’s target is 180 push-ups, for the 18% of Australians who filled a mental health-related prescription in 2021-2022.

According to research, nearly 1 in 5 of us received medication to treat a mental health condition during 2021-22. This equates to 4.7 million Aussies – in other words, it’s pretty common to take medication for our mental health.

Medication can be very effective for managing symptoms of common mental illnesses, including anxiety and depression. While they aren’t usually a quick fix, and should be used in conjunction with talk therapy and/or selfcare measures like exercise and meditation, medication can help address any chemical imbalances associated with mental illness, and help stabilise a person to support their long-term recovery journey.

Unfortunately, stigma still exists around the use of medication for mental health conditions. Misconceptions in the community, such as that someone should be able to ‘get on with it’ without the support of medicine, can hold some people back from receiving treatment that may support their recovery.

It’s also important to remember that deciding to start medication is always an individual’s choice, and each person’s treatment plan can be unique.

Medication is one piece of the puzzle when it comes to treating mental illness. Studies show that strategies including regular physical exercise, mindfulness practices and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (a form of talk therapy) all have high efficacy rates for improving some mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

Every body (and brain) is different, so a qualified health practitioner, like your GP, is the best place to start for a tailored conversation about any mental health treatments that may be relevant to you or a loved one.

Accessing health services

Day 10: 174 push-ups

Today’s target is 174 push-ups, for the 17.4% of Australians aged 16–85 who saw a health professional for their mental health in 2020-2022. Data shows that around 3.4 million of us saw a health professional for our mental health in a 12-month period, falling well below the 4.2 million Aussies who experience mental health difficulties each year.

Unfortunately, there are still many hurdles when seeking support for mental health. Common barriers to accessing treatment in Australia include cost, shortage of health professionals, long wait times, lack of awareness about support options, low mental health literacy, and stigma.

Sharing some of our daily Mental Health Facts with your mates and community during The Push-Up Challenge, via socials, email or just while having a chat, is a great way to contribute to boosting mental health literacy in Australia.

Feel like you could do with a chat with someone at the moment? It’s common to consider accessing a mental health service when we’ve got something on our mind, but then feel hesitant about actually making the call or booking an appointment. Taking the step to reach out to a crisis support line, psychologist, counsellor or other mental health service can be daunting.

Lots of good things can come out of talking to a professional - whether that’s offloading in a safe space, getting in touch with how you feel or working through deeper issues with the helping hand of an expert.

Lifeline’s trained Crisis Supporters are there to listen and provide you with the support you need. They can also help provide guidance on accessing longer-term support, such as a psychologist, after your call has ended.

Do you or a loved one need support, but are concerned about the cost? Finances are a common reason why people don’t access mental health services, however there are low-cost options available:

  • Australians can access up to 10 Medicare-subsidised sessions with a psychologist per calendar year, under a Mental Health Care Plan. See your GP for a Care Plan.
  • Young people aged 12-25 can access support via headspace, which offers free mental health support online, via phone and in-person through headspace centres.
  • If you’re employed, check if you have access to an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) through your workplace.
  • There are free or affordable online programs available including This Way Up and myCompass.

If you need to speak to someone urgently:

  • Call Lifeline on 13 11 14, text on 0477 13 11 14, or access Lifeline Crisis Chat via the Lifeline website.
  • Call 13YARN on 13 92 76 to talk with an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Crisis Supporter.

headspace communities

Day 9: 157 push-ups

Today’s target is 157 push-ups, for the 157+ headspace communities currently operating across Australia.

headspace is Australia’s National Youth Mental Health Foundation, providing early intervention services to young people aged 12-25.

Each year, headspace supports thousands of young people and their families at headspace services in over 157 communities across Australia.

headspace also provides mental health support to young Aussies via its online and phone counselling services, vocational services (including career mentoring) and a presence in schools.

headspace doesn’t only provide mental health support - they also provide physical and sexual health services, alcohol and other drug support and work and study services.

Since establishment in 2006, headspace has supported more than 867,000 young Australians, providing 6.7 million services to strengthen young peoples’ wellbeing, manage their mental health, get through challenging times and get back on track.

Find your local headspace service on the headspace website. For more information and support, go to

Psychological distress

Day 8: 129 push-ups

Today’s target is 129 push-ups, for the 12.9% of Australians who reported experiencing severe psychological distress in 2023.

The 2023 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report showed that the proportion of adults experiencing severe psychological distress increased during the pandemic, and has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels.

Mental health exists on a spectrum for each and every one of us. Our level of mental health can fluctuate depending on social determinants such as stress (like a global pandemic), life stage, life events, level of support and socioeconomic factors.

Research suggests that socioeconomic factors play a significant role in determining mental health outcomes. Factors such as education, employment, family and social support, community safety, and income were found to have a big impact on mental wellbeing.

Just like physical health is something we all experience at different levels (whether good, bad or somewhere in between), each individual’s level of mental health sits somewhere on a spectrum. Where we sit isn’t static, and our mental health can range from strong mental wellbeing to mental illness; often affected by social and situational determinants.

According to research, one in two Aussie adults will face mental ill-health at some point in their lives. Psychological distress and mental illness don’t discriminate – they affect people of all ages, backgrounds, and walks of life – and can’t be predicted.

It’s important to remember that it’s ok not to be ok, however, if at any time you are experiencing psychological distress, it’s important to reach out for help.

Lifeline: 13 11 14
13YARN: 13 92 76
headspace: 1800 650 890

Occupational burnout

Day 7: 129 push-ups

Today’s target is 129 push-ups, spotlighting the fact that Australian workers are 1.29 times more likely than the global average to experience burnout.

Did you know that Aussies experience some of the highest rates of burnout at work in the world? A 2022 report by Microsoft’s Work Trends Index found that 62% of us report being burned out at work, 1.29 times the global average.

So, what exactly is burnout at work? Also known as occupational burnout, this is a psychological syndrome that results from chronic workplace stress.

You may be experiencing workplace burnout if you experience feeling exhausted or depleted; have increased negative or cynical feelings related to your job, and reduced efficiency or productivity at work.

While it’s not currently classified as a mental illness, studies have identified a strong link between burnout and depression. Occupational burnout is very common – and it can impact many areas of a workplace, including increased conflict between colleagues, increased absenteeism, lower team morale and reduced productivity.

In Australia, WHS Regulations require organisations to ensure, as far as is reasonably practical, that workers are not exposed to psychosocial risks. These include high workload (which increases risk of mental health conditions), long work hours (which are associated with symptoms of depression) and job control (low authority to make decisions in our role is associated with mental health conditions).

If you think you’re experiencing burnout at work, many workplaces offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that provide a certain number of free anonymous counselling sessions per year – so check with your HR department or manager if this is something that’s available.

Self-care strategies could include regular exercise, using a meditation app and talking to a trusted loved one. And remember, if symptoms of burnout are interfering with your daily functioning, book an appointment with your GP to discuss how you’re feeling.


Day 6: 74 push-ups

Today’s target is 74 push-ups, for the 74% of pet owners who reported mental health improvements as a result of pet ownership.

We all know that our furry, scaly or feathery friends make us happy, but did you know research has uncovered numerous mental health benefits to having an animal companion?

One survey found that 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements as a result of pet ownership and 75% said that the mental health of a family member or friends had improved because of having a pet.

Pets can help reduce depression and anxiety symptoms, decrease levels of cortisol and reduce our risk of cardiovascular disease. Pets have also been shown to reduce loneliness and provide companionship. They help to provide a sense of purpose, promote social interaction, and improve physical fitness. This can have significant effects on mental wellbeing and slow down cognitive decline.

If you own a dog, this can also be a great way to encourage you and your family to get outdoors and exercise, as well as make new connections around your neighbourhood.

So if you’re lucky enough to have a pet of your own, give them some extra pats or cuddles on the couch tonight. Not a pet owner? Why not try visiting a cat or dog cafe or consider dog sitting for a mate when they go away, to get your furry friend fix.

Day 5: Rest day

Time to give the yourself a rest from push-ups. One of three rest days during the event. Use it wisely, we're back on tomorrow.

Nature & mental health

Day 4: 120 push-ups

Today’s target is 120 push-ups, for the 120 minutes per week spent in nature that’s recommended for good health and wellbeing.

Remember when your parents used to tell you to “go outside and get some fresh air”? It turned out they were onto something. Research suggests that spending at least two hours a week in nature can significantly improve our health and wellbeing.

According to studies, the health benefits of nature include improved cardiovascular health, reduced risk of obesity and diabetes, and positive effects on cognitive development for children.

Studies indicate that in addition to improved physical health, spending time in nature leads to improved mental wellbeing and reduced stress. When we spend time in nature, our levels of cortisol – aka the stress hormone – drop.

Our levels of anxiety and rumination also decrease following exposure to nature, while negative affect (translation: bad mood) is also improved.

We can all find a way to enjoy a little more nature in our lives. We challenge you to try one (or more) of these 5 things this week; microbreaks to step outside every two hours, walking or biking to work, enjoying meals outside, walking meetings, or involving nature in family time.

First Nations languages & mental health

Day 3: 123 push-ups

Today’s target is 123 push-ups, to recognise the 123+ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages spoken today. Keeping this intact will promote First Nations people’s connection to culture and social and emotional wellbeing.

There were once more than 780 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages in use in Australia. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage spans over 65,000 years, and is deeply rooted in connection to language, culture, land and each other.

First Australians experience significantly higher levels of mental health challenges than other Australians. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an estimated 31% of Indigenous adults reported ‘high or very high’ levels of psychological distress.

A significant body of research has demonstrated that when Indigenous peoples maintain connection with their languages and culture, they experience social, emotional, cognitive and health advantages.

The National Indigenous Languages report (2020) found that First Nations peoples who speak their language are more likely to feel happy, full of life, calm and full of energy, than those who speak only English.

Unfortunately, over 90% of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages are now critically endangered, with just over 123 languages still being spoken.

For many Indigenous Australians, language is a key part of identity, and feeling a sense of belonging and strong cultural identity are key indicators of good mental health.

LGBTQIA+ young people & suicide

Day 2: 110 push-ups

Today’s target is 110 push-ups, for the 11% of LGBTQIA+ young people aged 16 and 17 who reported attempting suicide in 2019.

Australian research found that more than one in 10 LGBTQIA+ study participants aged 16-17 had tried to take their own life in the past 12 months, almost three times the 3.8% observed in the general population.

According to La Trobe University’s National Report on the health and wellbeing of LGBTQIA+ young people, poorer mental health and wellbeing among this community results from experiences of stigma, prejudice and discrimination, creating a stressful and hostile social environment.

Social drivers of distress like homophobia, transphobia and associated discrimination are unfortunately still very much present. To counter this, it’s vital to support and celebrate diversity within our society.

Many Australians who identify as LGBTQIA+ thrive, living healthy and fulfilling lives. Yet research highlights the disproportionate number who experience mental health challenges and are at increased risk of suicide, with 26% of LGBTQIA+ youth aged 16-17 reporting having made a suicide attempt in their lifetime.

This data highlights the need to prioritise better mental health outcomes among this community. As a first step, it’s important to understand the unique cultural context experienced by members of the LGBTQIA+ community.

In addition, the National Report suggested that help-seeking experiences are more likely to be positive when delivered via an LGBTQIA+ specific service so support for LGBTQIA+ specific mental health service providers would also be a powerful way to improve mental health outcomes within this community.

You can find links to some of these services below:

  • QLife: Offers free LGBTQIA+ peer support and referral.
  • Minus18: A platform dedicated to supporting LGBTQIA+ youth.
  • PFLAG Australia: A peer support group helping parents, families, and friends with loved ones identifying as LGBTQIA+.
  • Black Rainbow: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander LGBQTIA+SB support.
  • LGBTIQ+ Health Australia: Provides a range of services and support for the  LGBTIQ+ community.
  • Queerspace: A dedicated organisation offering services and support.

Ocean swimming

Day 1: 52 push-ups

Today’s push-up target is 52 - according to a recent study, swimming or snorkelling in the ocean at least once a week (that’s 52 ocean experiences a year) is significantly associated with better mental wellbeing.

They say you never regret a swim – and now the benefits of vitamin sea are backed up by science. Research carried out in Indonesian island communities during the pandemic found that those who swam or snorkelled in the sea, experienced improved mental wellbeing.

Getting in the ocean regularly can do great things for your mental health.

Research has been done on the effect of blue spaces (i.e. water-based spaces) and the benefits that being near or in them have for our wellbeing.

A study from the UK found that open water swimming (swimming outdoors) can improve wellbeing and positive mood states, and reduces negative mood states such as tension, anger and fatigue, as well as decreasing symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Yep, swimming, snorkelling, surfing, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding in the ocean and other natural blue spaces is a simple, cheap and effective option to boost your mood, reduce stress and support your overall mental wellbeing.

Studies show that many forms of nature experiences are beneficial for our mental health and being in the ocean and other bodies of water appears to be good for our wellbeing.

So, why are blue spaces so effective at restoring our wellbeing? According to the literature, the immersive nature of swimming (and other water-based activities like snorkelling) is a key factor, as this facilitates an even deeper connection with nature.

Depending on where you live, this is a great activity to add to your mental wellbeing toolkit in summer. Can’t wait? Today is World Environment Day – which makes it the perfect time to brave the cold or zip on a wetsuit for a quick plunge or surf.