27 May, 2020 Last updated: 01 Jul, 2020

How Smiling Mind is delivering mental health workshops online

Tips for digitising health promotion during coronavirus

The coronavirus pandemic has thrown many organisations into the deep end of learning about technology and ways to maintain communication and ongoing participation in health promotion activities.

While delivering a sports or health promotion program online takes some preparation, you don’t have to do it alone. VicHealth has put together a series of fact sheets on digitisation, providing tips and information to help you adapt your programs.


Creative mindfulness: a mental health case study from Smiling Mind

META by Smiling Mind and Beci Orpin is a mindfulness program for secondary school students that involves young people working in a collaborative, creative exploration with artists and creatives. VicHealth, in partnership with Creative Victoria, funded the META project as part of the Bright Futures mental wellbeing strategy.

It was originally intended to be delivered through hands-on classroom workshops, but coronavirus changed all that.

“Our program is all about using mindfulness through creativity to develop stress management and coping skills,” says Dr Kerrie Buhagiar, Director of Major Projects at Smiling Mind.

“We’ve had to think about ways we could enable students and young people to work creatively without face-to-face contact. So, we pivoted to creating lessons and activities that can be delivered online via video.”


Accessibly creative

Smiling Mind is in the process of turning the META program into a series of video workshops for students.

“Alongside more structured learning components, the activities bring an element of ‘do-it-yourself’ mindfulness that helps young people explore the relationship between creativity and wellbeing,” she explains. “And delivery via video means that they can access the workshops anytime and virtually anywhere.”

While it’s not easy to replicate the experience of working together with an artist on a project, the team has done a massive amount of work in a short time to reinvest in digital assets to create an experience for young people that’s interactive and as close as possible to the real thing.


A mindful challenge

“We’ve had to think about how to engage young people who might be happy participating in a workshop for several hours, but often don’t have an appetite for lengthy videos,” says Kerrie. “It has really challenged our thinking, but it has helped us to create resources that will be more accessible to more young people.”

The META program will launch in June and the project team has already planned an evaluation of the pilot. They are keen to get the results to see what the new direction in programming will tell them about its success.

“The proof will be in the pudding. We don’t yet know how feasible it is to deliver practical creative workshops using video, or how acceptable this modality will be to young people, so the evaluation will be vital to learning what works,” says Kerrie.

In the meantime, Kerrie reveals that the support of funding bodies, such as VicHealth, has been enormously helpful, and an incredibly committed, hard-working and skilful team has been invaluable.  

“And heck, it wouldn’t be a challenge without some staff changes thrown into the mix! Thank goodness for mindfulness 😊.”


Tips for delivering a sports or health promotion program online

1. Think about your participants and how they already access information, including:

  • how quickly you may need to capture their attention
  • whether they access information on-the-go
  • accessibility to other related information.

2. Use the channels your audience are using, such as LinkedIn for business, TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram for youth, Twitter for academics.

3. Check out what similar organisations are doing.

4. Consider co-design to actively involve participants with lived experience in the area you’re trying to reach.


To get more detailed information, download the fact sheets from VicHealth’s Coronavirus Health Promotion Resources Hub.


Check out META for young people at https://wearemeta.com.au/about/ and more about mindfulness at Smiling Mind.