Health Promotion

On this page you will find reliable, evidence-based information and resources to help you stay safe during COVID-19 and into the future. 

Quick links:

Gambling

With gambling venues closed due to COVID-19, or extra time on their hands, Victorians might turn to online gambling to fill the void, or increase their existing levels of gambling.

Online gambling is one of the riskier types of gambling as it is easy to bet and lose a lot of money very quickly. One of the dangers of online gambling is people may not feel like they are spending ‘real’ money and because they forget to keep track of losses.

People are turning to free mobile phone games which mimic the effects of poker machines and allow users to keep playing by buying credits. These new gambling apps are designed to be as addictive as poker machines. Another key area of concern is major sports betting sites diversifying into more novel sports and betting categories.

The gambling industry can be aggressive in its marketing of online gambling, with frequent and ‘personalised’ promotional offers via email, text messages, social media advertisements, pop-up ads or a combination of all of these.

The promotions make people think about betting more than they normally would and are a reminder that online games are available any time of the day or night. Often these ads make it seem like all players will win, whereas the reality is that most people lose a significant amount more than they win.

If gambling is causing problems in your life, help is available:

  • Seek help
    Gambler's Help provides free confidential counselling by phone, email or video calls. Call Gambler's Help on 1800 858 858 or Gambler's Help Youthline on 1800 262 376.
  • Keep busy
    Find a list of free arts and culture online activities to keep you inspired and engaged during isolation.
  • Self-exclusion
    Self-exclusion is a free program to ban yourself from online gambling websites. Other options include software that blocks your computer from accessing gambling sites and a number of banks allow you to block gambling transactions. Find out more online: Self-exclusion program

Alcohol

We need to be mindful of how much alcohol we are drinking and its impact on us and our loved ones during COVID-19.

People who experience challenges with alcohol, or have in the past, are even more vulnerable to using alcohol as a coping mechanism during this stressful and uncertain time.

Keeping track of whether your alcohol consumption has changed, and being mindful of other impacts alcohol may be having on your life, can help you to stay healthy.

Emerging research is highlighting the change in our drinking behaviour during COVID-19. Research by FARE and YouGov found 20% of Australians had purchased more alcohol, 70% are drinking more alcohol than normal and 28% have been drinking alcohol on their own more often during COVID-19.

Tips for minimising the harms from alcohol consumption

  • Drink water or other non-alcohol beverages between alcoholic drinks
  • Avoid high-alcohol content beverages, such as stronger beers or wines, and spirits
  • Eat some food before and while drinking, to slow your drinking pace and slow the absorption of alcohol.

Dry July

Looking for extra motivation to reduce your drinking? Sign up for Dry July. Dry July encourages people to go alcohol-free in July and raise funds for people affected by cancer.

Mocktail recipes

Stay tuned for an Arts and Culture online program.

Healthy eating

During extended periods at home, some people might find they have more time to prepare, cook and eat while other households will be under financial strain and have less of their normal groceries available.

Regardless of your position it’s a good idea to plan your meals and snacks (this also helps reduce wastage and help reduce cost), drink enough water, limit caffeine and alcohol and move your body daily (whether inside or outside of the home).

Government restrictions allow people to leave their homes to purchase food, and while buying fresh fruit and vegetables is great, remember that frozen or canned vegetables, beans or fruits can be just as nutritious and store well for a long time. To maintain a healthy weight and a healthy blood pressure levels, look for “no added salt”, “low-salt” or “reduced-salt” versions and choose fruit canned in juice rather than syrup.

Visit Active Monash healthy eating recipes for some healthy cooking inspiration while at home.

VicHealth has also collated information on healthy eating during COVID-19.  

Being active

Moving your body will help manage stress, boost your energy and support your mental and physical health.

Current restrictions might make it harder for you to keep active in your usual ways before COVID-19, but there still are ways to get moving indoors and outdoors.

  • Walking, running or cycling around your neighbourhood or local reserve
  • Join an online physical activity program that can be done from home. YouTube is a good place to start with a large variety of free exercise videos
  • Check out Active Monash’s Active at Home program that has group fitness videos, workouts, healthy tips and information, as well as advice on how to keep your family moving during this time
  • Sign up to The May 50K from MS Research Australia. The May 50K is a virtual fitness and fundraising challenge that encourages participants to walk or run 50 kilometres during the month of May. You can decide when and where you will complete your 50 kilometres and the challenge can be done by yourself, with friends or family, or get together a team with your work colleagues.  It is free to sign up online.
  • There are free apps such as Strava and FitBit to help keep you active.

Smoking

People who smoke are generally at higher risk of respiratory tract infections, like chest infections, and there is growing evidence that people who smoke may be at higher risk of COVID-19 and its complications.

People with poor lung health and other conditions like cardiovascular disease and cancer (which can be caused by smoking) are also at higher risk of complications if they do become infected with the virus.

It’s not clear how long a person needs to stop smoking to reduce their risk of these complications but stopping smoking has many health benefits, even beyond a link with COVID-19, so it’s always a good time to quit.

Quitline
Quitline counsellors are trained experts in quitting smoking. They can give you small steps to help you break the habit and can support you over your quitting journey. Call the Quitline on 13 7848 or go to their website.

Mental health

It's important to look after your mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It is normal to feel stressed and anxious at this time.

Below are some tips to help manage your mental health:

  • Maintain a healthy diet, exercise and sleep regime
  • Stay connected. A reduction in physical interactions doesn’t mean you can’t connect with friends and family or maintain emotional connections
  • Talk to loved ones about your worries and concerns
  • Engage in hobbies and enjoyable activities. Visit Monash's Isolation Inspiration for free activities to do from home
  • Avoid or reduce your use of alcohol, gambling and tobacco
  • Limit access to media to prevent feeling overwhelmed. Make sure you get your information from reputable sources like the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services or the World Health Organisation
  • Focus on what you can control, such as practicing good hygiene
  • Remind yourself to be in the present moment.

Children’s Mental Health

For information to support children’s mental health during COVID-19 and resources how to talk to children about the pandemic, visit Emerging Minds.

Quick ways to stay calm

  • Go for a walk outside
  • Make yourself a cup of tea
  • Write down your feelings
  • Take 5 deep breaths.

Meet Your Street during COVID-19

Monash Council has been working to foster stronger connections between residents within local Monash neighbourhoods through our Meet Your Street campaign.

Over the summer months there were eight community run Meet Your Street events and two Council run neighbourhood events that brought residents out of their homes and into streets and parks to get to know each other and strengthen community connections.

Unfortunately, the spread of Coronavirus has affected the way in which neighbours can connect face-to-face, but it has been positive to see how the community has adapted and is finding innovative ways to connect during this challenge period, such as the Rainbow Trail, chalk drawings, Tea at 3 from driveways, sharing home grown produce and the Teddy Bear Hunt.  

Staying connected to your community during this challenging time can help with isolation and improve mental health.

A great way to safely keep in touch with neighbours is through technology, by creating a street Facebook group or WhatsApp group.

We would love you to share your stories of neighbourly kindness in Monash. Either email us or share your story using the hashtags #kindnessmatters #thisismonash #weareinthistogether.

More info: Meet Your Street

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Last updated: 02 August 2020