Wellbeing Tip | Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected

Victorian Institute of Sport athletes from eight different sports will help increase awareness around suicide prevention as part of the Australian Institute of Sport and Lifeline Australia’s impactful community engagement program, Lifeline Community Custodians. The athletes will encourage anyone who needs support to reach out and ask for help.

Recently-retired Australian netballer and current Melbourne Vixens player Caitlin Thwaites is one of the custodians for 2020-21 and is grateful for the opportunity to give back to the community in a space that she is familiar with.  

“I have had my own journey with my mental health over the years and through this I learnt so much about managing my wellbeing and developed a number of coping strategies which I now use every day,” Thwaites said.

“I have been open in sharing my story and struggles when I am out in the community because I believe assisting to reduce the stigma, and educate the community is vital to helping people going through their own personal battles.”

Caitlin Thwaites with her Australian Diamonds netball team, seen here at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Michael Dodge/Getty Images

VIS athlete and Aussie Opals Captain Jenna O’Hea is returning as Lifeline Custodian and one of her messages during the COVID-19 crises has been; “Stay safe, stay healthy, stay connected.”

AIS Director of Athlete Wellbeing and Engagement Matti Clements insists that one of the key messages we want to remind Australians is the importance of reaching out and “staying connected.”

With this in mind, the VIS Performance Lifestyle team have pulled together a tip on how to stay connected creatively during these uncertain times.

According to VIS psychologist, Mark Spargo, a typical response to stressful situations can be to isolate yourself, including from teammates or training partners. However, this could make it more difficult to become a part of the team/training group when training eventually returns to normal. Therefore he is encouraging everyone to stay as involved as possible in team or group proceedings and to participate in virtual team meetings and various social media groups that may have been set up.

Some other ways of staying connected may also be:

  • Have a friend, or group of, to set daily challenges with. These could include a healthy habit, a mindful practice or a creative pursuit. Be sure to encourage and check in daily to stay motivated. 
  • Set dates and times to watch the same TV shows/movies with someone and message each other your thoughts along the way. 
  • Set up a gratitude tree – where every member posts a message or sends a text to other members to share something they are grateful for. 
  • If there is someone you think may struggle through social isolation, it is important to reach out to them and let them know you care. You can: 
  • Call them to check on their welfare 
  • Send an email 
  • Leave a note under their door 
  • Leave a meal for them 

Don’t underestimate the power you have to offer hope to another person. 

To find out more about the AIS and Lifeline Community Custodians program visit https://ais.gov.au/custodians

Victorian Institute of Sport Lifeline Community Custodians:

  • Alexandra Viney, Rowing
  • Amanda Bateman, Rowing
  • Caitlin Thwaites, Netball
  • Catriona Bisset, Athletics
  • Kristy Harris, Boxing
  • Rachael Lynch, Hockey
  • Matthew Lewis, Wheelchair Rugby
  • Jenna O’hea, Basketball
  • Belle Brockhoff (NSWIS), Snowboarding  
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