VicHealth’s Action Agenda 2019–2023 reaffirms the 10-year goal of 200,000 more Victorians being resilient and connected by 2023.
Download: VicHealth Mental Wellbeing Strategy 2019-2023 (PDF, 157 KB)
All Victorians deserve to live healthy, happy lives and experience positive mental health and wellbeing. Despite considerable evidence that many mental health conditions are preventable, too many people in our community experience mental health conditions that affect their wellbeing and their ability to participate fully in everyday life.
In 2013 VicHealth released its Action Agenda for Health Promotion, which set our strategic direction for the 10 years to 2023. Improving mental wellbeing is one of the five strategic imperatives identified for improving the health of all Victorians, with a 10-year goal that 200,000 more Victorians will be resilient and connected by 2023.
Positive social connections among young people
Loneliness and lack of positive social connections are emerging issues of concern internationally, as their impact on mental and physical wellbeing can be profound.
Research on loneliness often focuses on older adults, but recent VicHealth studies have identified that one young person in eight also reports feeling lonely, and one in four was unable to find social support when it was needed. While many are highly connected online, some young people are isolated or excluded. Some young people also experience loneliness and a lack of positive social connections. This is particularly true for younger people living in rural and remote communities, LGBTIQ younger people, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and refugee and newly arrived communities (Weinberg & Tomyn 2017).
Social programs that target loneliness in young people have been adopted by agencies over time, however, it is unclear how effective they are. More attention to evaluation is required.
Our investment activity into mental wellbeing over the next four years will focus on young people aged 12–25 years. We will:
- generate new knowledge about the prevalence and nature of loneliness among young Victorians to empower local government and community organisations to foster positive social connections among young people
- trial, replicate and embed effective approaches to promote youth mental wellbeing
- contribute to government action to prevent mental health conditions and promote mental wellbeing in response to the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.
What will success look like?
More young Victorians feel socially connected.
Our work in gender equality is contributing to the systems reform outlined in the Victorian Government’s Safe and Strong strategy and its Free from Violence strategy, by partnering with Victorian primary prevention and gender equality organisations.
Healthier masculinity for young men and boys
Our focus on gender equality recognises the health benefits of a more gender-equitable society for both women and men. To date, much of this work has focused on building the health and wellbeing of women and girls.
International experts are now calling for greater engagement of men and boys in gender equality, particularly to transform harmful gender stereotypes, forms of masculinity and negative social norms, attitudes and behaviour (MenEngage Alliance 2017). Furthermore, there is increasing recognition that educating boys and men about the restrictive nature of masculine ideologies affects not only gender equality but other health outcomes and risk behaviours (APA 2018).
Over the next four years, we will:
- develop a public health framework and guiding resources to support policy and practice in healthier masculinities
- build the capacity of partner organisations to deliver healthier masculinities interventions in settings and communities where young men and boys live, learn, work and play
- develop messaging that supports a broader understanding of the term ‘healthier masculinities’ across settings and sectors.
What will success look like?
Evidence-based approaches are adopted, with positive changes in masculine norms.
The National Community Attitudes Survey (NCAS) Youth Reports (Webster et al. 2018) found that young people, especially young men, had a:
- low level of understanding of the behaviour constituting violence against women
- low level of intention to take action in response to witnessing abuse or disrespect of women
- poor knowledge, relatively high endorsement of violence-supportive views and a low level of support for gender equality.
Addressing these attitudes and building knowledge are as important for promoting gender equality and preventing violence against women as influencing behavioural change.
Over the next four years, we will work with our partners to identify best practice to help people to take action if they witness sexism or sexual harassment. We aim to:
- strengthen the ability of young Victorians to be active bystanders in key settings such as universities and other tertiary education settings, public transport, workplaces, pubs and bars
- strengthen the capacity of organisations to deliver high-quality bystander initiatives across Victoria
- be a catalyst for change by building new knowledge around bystander action as a primary prevention approach to violence against women and promoting gender equality.
What will success look like?
Greater community understanding of what constitutes violence against women, and more active bystander action taken in key settings.
References: Download the VicHealth Mental Wellbeing Strategy 2019-2023 PDF for a full list of references.
Download: VicHealth Mental Wellbeing Strategy 2015-2019 (PDF, 3.02MB)
Literature review 1: Current theories relating to resilience and young people (PDF, 726KB)
Literature review 2: Epidemiological evidence relating to resilience and young people (PDF, 1.8MB)
Literature review 3: Interventions to build resilience among young people (PDF, 1.9MB)