The Ignite+VU: Mental Health event was a few months ago, but the repercussions of that day continue to have a far-reaching effect.
Ignite is a new initiative, supported by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which promotes collaboration and provides an opportunity to showcase VU academics' work in mental health to a range of businesses, industries and government leaders.
Poor mental health is a significant individual, social and economic problem and with denser urbanisation, ingrained social media use and increasingly sedentary lives, it is worsening. The distribution of poor mental health is also unequal in our community.
VU’s Associate Professor Melinda Craike (Physical Activity and Health in the Institute for Health and Sport, and Acting Health Policy Lead at the Mitchell Institute) delivered a powerful address to a packed VU auditorium.
Despite not being ‘a sporty child’, as a teenager Melinda made a decision that would have a lasting impact:
“I started walking to school and realised that it seemed to make my day go better. I was able to handle the stresses of life as an adolescent.”
Now Melinda, an internationally recognised researcher in understanding and promoting physical activity engagement in healthy and clinical population groups, spends much of her professional life researching the critical connection between physical activity and good mental health.
From walking meetings and lunchtime yoga sessions to stretch-breaks, ways to improve the mental health of employees are many, and Melinda encouraged potential industry partners to consider implementing them.
“Mental health is a huge community issue, but it’s also a significant issue for businesses.
"The Ignite+VU event was a fantastic opportunity to talk about how work places can often be a barrier to promoting physical activity due to long work hours and an unsupportive work–life-balance culture. What I’d like to see is more researchers partnering with business, government and community groups to help address this concern.”
As a direct result of the Ignite+VU event, more than a dozen organisations expressed interest in collaborating on future projects.