The daily Mental Health Facts

The Mental Health Facts are the foundation of The Push-Up Challenge. Your target number of push-ups varies from day to day to reflect a different Mental Health Fact.

They're sourced from peer-reviewed studies by qualified researchers, and undergo a stringent fact-checking process.

Read and share them to start important conversations, boost mental health awareness and help smash the stigma.

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 headspace.org.au

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.

Pets

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.