Categories
Life

There’s conflicting advice on sleep. So what’s true?

Young woman sleeping on a bed on her back
Image: iStock

Sleep is vital for health. Everyone needs adequate, quality sleep. According to Healthline, effects from a lack of quality sleep can include:

  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Various mental health problems (irritability, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts)
  • Weakened immune system, which can affect a person’s ability to ward off illnesses
  • Increased risk of chronic conditions, such as diabetes mellitus and heart disease
  • A vulnerable respiratory system. This leaves a person more susceptible to the flu and common colds
  • Weight gain and obesity

Is going to bed earlier healthier?

Although effects of a lack of sleep seem clear cut, the ‘right time’ is not.

Last week, The Australian published an article suggesting that going to bed earlier can have health benefits. The ideal bedtime is between 10 to 10.59 pm.

Going to bed at midnight or later may increase a person’s risk of heart disease by 25%.

According to lecturer, Dr. David Plans, the reason seems to be our 24-hour body clock.

Our study indicates that the optimum to go to sleep is at a specific point in the body’s 24-hour cycle and deviation may be detrimental to health.

Dr. Plans said that the riskiest time to go to bed is after midnight, as it decreased the body’s likelihood of seeing morning light.

Independent researcher, Dr. Neill Stanley blamed later bedtimes on modern lifestyle.

Like Dr. Plans, Dr. Stanley also advocates for people going to bed at a regular and earlier time. It’s suggested that going to bed even ten minutes earlier can increase health.

According to a large study by researchers at the University of Colorado going to bed an hour earlier may decrease a person’s risk of depression by 23%. This finding was published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal.

There is a physical affect of going to bed earlier. A late night may result a rise in blood pressure that carries on to the next day.

So, it seems quite clear cut. Going to be earlier and at a regular time increases both physical and mental health. Well, maybe… but maybe not.

Are bedtime needs determined by biology?

A dark-skinned sleeping baby
Image: iStock

A 2019 article from the ABC website drew different conclusions.

Health psychologist from Sleep Health Foundation, Moira Junge claimed that the ideal bedtime was a ‘myth’.

Dr. Junge said:

It’s a vague science to prescribe a bedtime for people.

Glorica Micic from the Adelaide Institute of Sleep Health at the Flinders University agreed.

She suggested that if people didn’t have commitments and could go to bed when tired, times will vary from person to person.

However, most people were believed to fall into a pattern. Most people fell asleep between 9 pm and midnight and wake up at 6 – 7 am.

Dr. Junge and Dr Micic advised to go to bed when you’re tired. They advised against going to bed earlier.

It’s possible to adjust a person’s sleeping and waking times slightly, often with professional help.

 

So, what’s the truth? Did Dr. Stanley and Dr. Plans debunk Dr. Junge and Dr. Micic? It’s always possible.

Personally, I can kind of see both arguments. However, I’m more willing to go with Dr. Junge and Dr. Micic. I think ideal bedtimes vary from person to person.

What do you think? Are you a night owl or early bird? Do you think one is better? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Mental health crisis: ED patients in mental distress say they won’t go back

Emergency Department sign
Image: iStock

 

TW: suicidal ideation, mental health distress. If these issues are triggering for you, please proceed with care. Seek help if you need it.

A mental health not – for – profit conducted a study that had worrying results.

The Black Dog Institute surveyed 911 participants in NSW and the ACT. Almost half of respondents who experienced suicidal distress said they would refuse to return to emergency departments or seek out further treatment.

43.5% of respondents said they wouldn’t seek out help from ED staff if they experienced suicidal distress.

Reasons given included: long delays, incomplete assessments and a lack of resources.

Associate Professor for Black Dog Institute, Fiona Shand outlined problems faced by many professionals and patients:

They know what the problems are, and they want to do more, but the processes and lack of resourcing don’t allow them to spend adequate time with patients or work in the way they would like.

 

A sign of a broken system

A participant from ACT opened up about her harrowing experience. She claimed that she went to the ED for suicidal thoughts in 2019. It exacerbated her anxiety.

Staff fast – tracked her, only to abandon her for hours. She said the experience left her “agitated”. The isolation could’ve been dangerous. When left on her own, she claimed she could leave the facility with no detection, or self – harm.

If this isn’t a sign of a broken system, I don’t know what is. Something needs to change. And it needs to change now.

People with serious mental health issues are being let down

Depressed woman sitting down distressed
Image: iStock

I’ve written before about the need to fix Australia’s mental health system.

I firmly believe that Medicare should cover mental health completely.

For patients who are diagnosed with a severe mental illness, psychology therapies should be free. An example of a country that does this is the UK.

The Government needs to expand Medicare

Why the hell are people with serious mental health issues going to ED? Because people can’t afford psychology appointments?

Will lifting the cap on Medicare reduce the need for ED admissions? Maybe.

However, if suicidal people do appear in ED, doctors and nurses need to know how treat them.

Effects of good mental health

There are reasons why I keep banging on about this. Good mental health means a better society.

If we improved mental health in our society we will improve:

  • Employment prospects: According to Urban Design Mental Health, poor mental health damages a person’s employment prospects. People with mental illnesses are 10 – 15 per cent more likely to be unemployed.
  • Family: When a person has a severe mental illness, family members are most likely to be carers. This can affect the carer’s employment, health, etc.
  • Homelessness: Another issue that people pay lip service to. 30 – 35% of homeless people are seriously mentally ill.

Too many people are literally dying because of poor mental health. More people are suffering in silence or are getting inadequate care. Enough is enough.

If you’re Australian, feel free to sign this petition for mental health to be properly funded under Medicare. 

 

 

 

Categories
Culture Social media

Instagram linked to poor mental health in young people

Instagram app on device
Image: iStock

The Wall Street Journal uncovered troubling findings on the impact Instagram has on teens.

Instagram’s parent company Facebook Inc conducted the research.

One slide from Facebook’s internal message board last year claimed:

Thirty-two percent of teen girls said when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse.

Another slide noted:

Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves

Facebook Inc has conducted the research over three years. The consistent findings are worrying.

While not a cause, Instagram has shown to exacerbate depression, anxiety, eating disorders and suicidal ideation. 13% British and 6% of American teens blamed Instagram for their suicidal ideation.

Facebook CEO and Head downplay the findings

Not surprisingly, Facebook Inc has downplayed worrying findings.

Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg argued:

The research that we’ve seen is that social apps to connect with other people can have positive mental-health benefits.

Likewise, Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri has also minimised the findings, claiming size of the issue was “quite small”.

Instagram banks on young people

Young people are abandoning Facebook. They have been for almost a decade. However, the number of young people using Instagram has exploded.

People aged twenty-two and under make up 40% of Instagram’s users. On average, US teens spend 50% more time on Instagram than Facebook.

That’s why Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Instagram’s Head Adam Mosseri has downplayed the alarming research. At a Congressional Hearing in March this year, Zuckerberg argued:

The research that we’ve seen is that using social apps to connect with other people can have mental-health benefits

Mosseri downplayed the issues. He said the extent of the problem was “quite small”.

Of course, Mosseri and Zuckerberg will want to minimise links between Facebook, Instagram and youth mental health. Young people on Instagram have become their cash cow.

Instagram and the exploitation of underage children

Canadian Youtuber and podcaster, Josh Barbour is vocal against influencers who exploit children. His campaign was triggered by Myka and James Stauffer’s adoption and ‘rehoming’ of a Chinese child. (I’m not going to use the name the Stauffers gave him).

The case exploded Barbour’s channel, The Dad Challenge Podcast. Since then, Barbour has exposed a whole underbelly of child exploitation on social media.

Piper Rockelle and Liliana K

Two revolting instances of children being exploited on Instagram are Liliana Ketchman (aka Liliana K) and Piper Rockelle.

 

I remember when I saw his video on Ketchman, her account was mass reported. Liliana was underage (twelve, I think). Unfortunately, Instagram refused to take the account down. Reason? Her ‘mother’ (I use that term loosely) ran the account.

I was infuriated. I seriously thought about deleting my Instagram accounts.

A few months later, Barbour exposed the exploitation of Piper Rockelle. Unlike Liliana K, Rockelle was over the age limit (she was fourteen, I think).

The images are beyond revolting.

For me, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I deleted both my Instagram accounts. Please note,  I don’t begrudge those who still have an Instagram account.

However, if people delete their accounts in revolt, I’m all for it. People should hold Facebook Inc accountable.

Platforms like YouTube and Instagram are potentially putting children in danger. The full impact on child influencer culture is yet to be seen.

 

I’ll be fair to Mark Zuckerberg for a second. Do I believe that he  deliberately created Instagram to exploit children? No. But he is responsible. And Facebook Inc is failing a whole generation.

I’m passionate about mental health. I think that mental health care, especially therapies, should be free for clients. If you feel the same consider signing the Green’s petition hereYou can also write to your MP.

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Let’s broaden discussions on mental health and fix the system

Paper head with heart in the brain

Image: iStock

 

Content Warning: mental health and suicide

Last week had RUOK Day and Suicide Awareness Day. Media personalities and my former high school were encouraging people to check in on loved ones and reach out.

That’s all lovely. I mean it. Everyone has times when they need to talk about issues. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on.

But what if your issues run deeper? What if you are really at crisis point?

Psychotherapies: a major gap in mental health

When RUOK Day comes around, there’s focus on depression, anxiety and the devastating affects of suicide.

While these discussions are a must, I believe there needs to be more. There are more mental illnesses that need advocacy and treatments. These include (but not limited to):

  • Bipolar disorder
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective disorder
  • Substance use disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

All these disorders have a higher suicide rate compared to the general population.

The mental health discussion doesn’t go into the need for psychotherapies such as: dialectical behavioural therapy (DBT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). These are beyond the scope of Lifeline and Beyond Blue.

Mental health: a gap in Australia’s Medicare system

Australia has Medicare. It was first introduced in 1984. For the most part, Medicare allows Australians to access GPs and public hospitals for treatment without being left thousands of dollars out of pocket.

However, when it comes to mental health, there is a massive gap.

The Better Access Initiative

The Better Access Initiative is a scheme that gives eligible people the access to mental health services they need.

Unfortunately, it has its limits. According to Australia’s Department of Health website, the scheme offers 10 individual and 10 group therapy sessions a year.

For some people, this may be adequate. But if you require weekly or bi-weekly therapy, it’s not. For example, to be affective, a person with BPD needs bi-weekly DBT sessions a year. That’s at least 52 individual and 52 group therapy.

Australian Psychological Society encouraged change

In 2019, the Australian Psychological Society published a media release. They warned that the access to mental health services to Australians who needed it was inadequate.

In the media release, APS made a number of recommendations including:

  • More individual sessions available
  •  Group therapy sessions
  • An increase in therapy sessions for families and carers

Now, I’m guessing the Australian Government has implemented the changes by making the increase from ten to 20 sessions a year.

The APS should fight for more.

Follow UK’s example: make mental health free

Australia should look toward UK’s National Health Service (NHS). I get it has its pitfalls, but it’s philosophy is good. Mental health services should be free, even if a referral from a GP or psychiatrist is required.

Maybe the current Medicare Levy may need to be increased. Boris Johnson recently increased NHS rate another 1.25%. Maybe we should do similar here.

How much is a life worth? How much is mental health worth?

At minimum, the Government should  offer free services to people with serious mental health conditions. It may just save lives.

 

People with serious and chronic mental health issues need more than platitudes. They need more than once – a – year campaigns. They need services that they can access without going out of pocket.

What do you think? What changes can the Australian Government make to improve mental health care? Let me know your thoughts below.

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Australian MP pushes for loot box restrictions

Two children under bed covers playing video games
Image: iStock

Australian Independent MP, Andrew Wilkie is pushimg for restrictions on video games that feature loot boxes.

According to Herald Sun, Wilkie condemned loot boxes as “barely disguised gambling”.

 

What are loot boxes?

According to Parent Zone, loot boxes are “virtual treasure chests”. They allow players to change weapns or characters.

Due to the rise of online gaming, the dynamic of gaming has changed. Buying a computer game is no longer a one – time purchase. Computer games, (including iPads, phones, etc) often require players to buy a subscription, rewards or coins to advance in the game. This is why loot boxes are concerning.

 

Gambling and the role of parents and caregivers

Children gambling is a growing concern. Earlier this year, Sydney Morning Herald reported 40 per cent of NSW children aged 12 – 17 were playing games with features that emulate gambling. 

Games featuring loot boxes, coins and rewards proved concerning. 3.7% of children studied were considered problem gamblers or at high risk.

There are a number of risk factors to this worrying trend. Parents who gamble are a risk factor. 58 per cent of children who gambled also had parents who gamble. 20 per cent had grandparents who did.

This makes sense. Addiction often has a genetic component. Also, parental modelling is important. Children often pick up habits and stressors from their families. This is why I think the issue deserves a holistic approach.

 

Problem gambling and mental health

Problem gambling is mental illness. Fourth Edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM IV) listed problem gambling as an impulse control disorder.

Additionally, problem gambling often co – occurs with other mental conditions.

According to the Department of Health and Aging, problem gambling has similarities to substance use disorder. People with pre – existing mood disorders, especially depression, are at higher risk for problem gambling.

Chronic isolation can also make problem gambling worse. Due to COVID and restrictions, it wouldn’t be surprising if addictions were exacerbated, including among children and teens.

Politicians need to take mental health seriously if they want to attack this issue. They should seriously consider making all psychotherapies free under Medicare. They also need to ensure there are adequate services.

Additionally, there needs to be adequate guidance counsellors and social workers need to be in schools. 

 

Mother supports Wilkie’s proposal

Faye James, mother of son Pablo, eight, supports the bill.

This kind of bill is fundamental. We need to make parents aware of what they’re getting their kids into. Restrictions and transparency is key.

I don’t disagree that restrictions should be in place. Children should not have free access to gambling – style games.

However, I can’t help but think this is a Band – Aid solution. Focus on mental health and access to appropriate services. Make sure that children get the support they need. And, maybe we’ll see the problem decrease. 

If you are in Australia and you or someone you know is struggling mentally, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 (they also have a web chat)

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (for people under 25 or their parents or caregivers)

As always, for those outside Australia, feel free to offer any contact information to mental health services below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Gender/ sexuality

Mental health and the need for asexuality inclusion in schools

Image: iStock

Trigger warning: This post deals with suicide and may be triggering for some readers.

In September last year, the worst nightmare for any parent came true. 13 – year – old, Lily Dowling had taken her own life.

Before her death, she wrote letters to her best friends and left them in thier lockers. 

Jane Hansen from Herald Sun described her as a “gorgeous 13 – year  – old with a love for Harry Potter books and the world at her feet…”

When speaking about her daughter, Emma Heeley said:

She was the kindest, most caring girl who was always looking out for others. She attracted really beautiful people and had a lot of friends. 

The warning signs

There were clues that Lily wasn’t coping. Lily had written a poem about her own death nine months before the tragedy. She’d posted it on Instagram. Unfortunately, Ms. Heeley only found the poem after Lily’s death. 

By August 2019, Lily had started to withdraw.

“I knew something was really, really wrong, but she would just close up and not talk to me”, Ms. Heeley said. 

Lily refused to go to therapy.

Lily’s death is only one of a string of suicides among young girls that have gotten worse over the last ten years.

Lily came out as asexual

Three months before her death, Lily came out on Instagram as asexual. (Kudos for Jane Hansen for properly defining it in the article). 

Professor Ian Hickie raised concern about young people feeling the need to put a label on themselves in such a sexualised culture.

It’s true that young people shouldn’t be forced to place a label on themselves before their ready. Sexuality can be complex, especially while growing up.

Having said that, young people, should be able to come out if they feel sure about how they feel. 

How many cases like this out there?

How many young asexual people feel lost, depressed and even suicidal? Studies suggest that young LGBT people are at least 2.5 times more likely to take their own lives than heterosexual peers. However, this data excludes asexual and non binary trans people. 

In a paper, Morag Yule, Lori Brotto and Boris Bolzaka guessed that asexual individuals may suffer worse mental health issues due to stigma than other groups.

It wouldn’t surprise me if this was the case. What I found the hardest growing up was the erasure. I was told that asexuality Leither didn’t exist or it was something that people grew out of. 

I’ve said before that I don’t blame the people that told me these myths. This was in the early 2000’s – from 2005 to 2007. But I do hope things are changing.

School counsellors and other mental health workers need to know about asexuality

Everyone should feel free to go to a counsellor. LGBTQ+ people need to have counsellors that are going to accept and validate their identities and experiences. They need to know they won’t be judged.

This is why acceptance of asexual people is so important. School counsellors, social workers and other mental health workers need to know that asexuality is real. 

 

Maybe this can be included in a professional development program. Or make it a part of social work and psychology degree subjects/ modules. You might be scoffing at this, but the time for erasure and ignorance needs to end. 

 

 

If you feel like you need assistance, you can call Lifeline: 13 11 14.

BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636 (you can also chat online. They also have LGBTQ+ resources. They include asexuality).

If you believe that you or someone you know is in crisis, contact 000 or your country’s emergency number. 

Please leave your thoughts or helpful mental health hotlines in your area in the comments below. 

 

 

Categories
Around the world

K-pop boy band shines a light on mental health

Image: iStock

K- pop boyband, BTS, made waves earlier this month. 

On 3 December, they performed at an online event. The concert was meant to start at midnight. The 4th was lead singer, Jin’s birthday. 

Two hours before midnight (Korean Time), Jin revealed a surprise new song, with a note on social media. 

The song, Abyss,  changed the course of the night, as it discussed mental health. 

Jin revealed that the sudden success of BTS’ English hit, Dynamite sparked burnout and a feeling of imposter syndrome. 

Jin’s anxiety got so bad that  he eventually sought professional help and guidance from his boss, Bang Si-hyuk. Si-hyuk encouraged Jin to put his feelings to music. 

 

Mental health in South Korea

South Korea is a powerhouse when it comes to health. It has one of the lowest obesity rates and one of the longest life expectancies.

However, according to Ozy, South Korea doesn’t fair well when it comes to mental health. In fact, it has one of the worst suicide rates among the OECD countries. Up to forty South Koreans a day die by suicide.

Stress is a massive issue among South Koreans. 95% claim to suffer it. For a third of people, it’s chronic. 

It’s not just young people that are facing a mental health crisis. 28% of older South Koreans are depressed. Unfortunately, few want to admit it and get help in fear of being seen as weak.

Alcohol use disorder is also rampant in South Korea. It has one of the highest alcohol consumption rates in the world at fourteen shots per person per day. 

A number of factors may contribute to this worrying trend. These include pressure to be successful and geopolitical tensions with North Korea. 

 

It’s clear that mental health needs to be discussed. Much work needs to be done to break the stigma. Fortunately, BTS has started the conversation.

 

Musicians/ singers open up about mental health

Over the years, a number of  male singers/ bands have been open about mental health. 

Paranoid – Black Sabbath (1970)

According to Songfacts, Black Sabbath bassist and lyricist, Geezer Butler told Mojo magazine that Paranoid was about depression.

In the song, the protagonist is clearly paranoid. Butler admitted that he didn’t know the difference between depression and paranoia at the time.

If you look at the lyrics, hints of depression are obvious:

Finished with my woman cos she couldn’t help me with my mind

People think I’m insane cos I’m frowning all the time. 

And:

Make a joke and I will sigh 

And you will laugh and I will cry

Happiness I cannot feel 

And love to me is so unreal. 

 

I never cry – Alice Cooper (1976)

Alice Cooper has been very open about his mental health battles over the years. A number of his songs, including I never cry speaks about his battle with alcoholism.

How are you going to see me now deals with the fall out of his addiction on his family. 

In 2017, Cooper joined Canadian mental health campaign Bell: Let’s Talk. He spoke frankly about his battles with alcoholism and depression. 

He addressed his 1991 hit, Hey Stoopid, saying that it was written to discourage youth suicide. 

 

His Definitive Hits album has a number of songs where he addresses mental health struggles.

Alice Cooper Definitive hits CD
A number of Alice Cooper’s hits bring mental health into the spotlight.

 

Runaway train – Soul Asylum (1993)

The clip to the 1993 hit is well – known for raising awareness to missing children. However, lead singer, Dave Pirner has stated that the song is about his battle with depression. 

 

If this post has brought up any issues for you, please seek help. For Australians:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

If you are in immediate danger, contact 000 or other national emergency number.

 

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary Uncategorized

Australian children face a mental health crisis

Mental health image of brain
Image: iStock

According to Natasha Bita in the Herald Sun, Australian children and teenagers are facing a mental health crisis. (Mental Health 360: Shocking rise in Aussie teens being medicated, 2 December 2020).

1 in 13 teens are taking antidepressants and/or other psychiatric drugs.

Health and youth experts claim COVID-19 is a factor to this worrying trend. 87,781 primary school – aged children and 134,439 teenagers were prescribed medications for various mental disorders over 2018/2019.

What diagnoses children are receiving?

Not surprisingly, anxiety and depression are major issues facing a number of children. What’s worrying is that primary school and preschool – aged children are also being diagnosed.

Yourtown chief executive, Tracey Adams told Herald Sun that domestic violence is exacerbating these rates.

Children are also being diagnosed with other conditions, including ADD/ ADHD, psychosis and conduct disorder.

The increase in conduct disorder diagnoses has surprised and alarmed me. How can more children be diagnosed? Is it over diagnosis; an accusation commonly aimed at ADD/ADHD?

Or is it something else? As I wrote before, alarms surrounding domestic violence have been raised. According to Better Health Channel, parental aggression (particularly from the father) and domestic violence are risk factors that can trigger the disorder.

Government response

To be honest, I think that the Federal and State governments have failed in this area. It’s too little, too late.

Only now has the Government offered Kids Helpline extra funding for fifty more counsellors. Why wasn’t enough support put in before the pandemic hit?

I think this exposes the great flaws in the Australian mental health system as a whole. There isn’t enough support for those who need it, but haven’t reached breaking point.

Parents play vital role

Psychologist and founder of Parentshop, Michael Hawton told Herald Sun that most anxiety in children is “learned”.

If kids are surrounded by parents who are highly rushed and speaking and behaving anxiously, it’s hard for them to not pick up on that.

He also suggested that parents teach children about facing problems head on rather than avoiding them. Emotional reactivity should also be minimised.

Blaming social media and anxious parents doesn’t solve the problem

Many commenters on the Herald Sun article have blamed social media (surprised?). But to me, the issue is much bigger.

There are obviously children and teenagers that need ongoing help. Some may need different therapies, like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). There may be children that need to be removed from violent or abusive homes. Victims of bullies need support to have their self – esteem built back up.

Psychologists and/ or Masters qualified Social Workers need to be employed in all schools.

Also, I really do think the Australian mental health system needs an overhaul. Medicare is grossly inadequate in funding mental health.

The Australian mental health system seems to help two types of people: those who don’t need ongoing professional help. Or, the other extreme: those who are at high risk of harm or suicide.

Both State and Federal Governments have failed in dealing with psychological costs of lockdown and COVID-19. Counselling services should have been properly funded in the first place. It isn’t good enough.

Lastly, all mental health costs should be covered by the Government. If not through Medicare, through other means.

 

What are you thoughts? How can people with mental or behavioural conditions be helped?

 

 

 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Gym owners raise concerns about mental health amid coronavirus crackdown

treadmills in front of white acreen
Image: iStock

According to SBS, gym owners have lobbied for the Australian government to reverse the forced closure of gyms.

A number of gym owners and Fitness Australia have argued that gyms are an essential service, thus should remain open.

Sydney gym owner, Billy Kokkinis  has slammed the decision, calling it a “disaster” for mental health. He has also criticised the mixed messaging from Prime Minister, Scott Morrison for allowing exercise bootcamps, in which  ten people can participate, yet gyms are forced to close.

 

I wasn’t going to write about the coronavirus because the media has done it to death. However, when I read this story, it spurred me to write something. I go to a local gym and have been regularly for about two years. It closed about a fortnight ago due to Covid19. The Zumba class I attend was also cancelled.

I can understand the argument for keeping gyms open. Exercise makes you healthy all over.

However, can gyms guarantee compliance of the 1.5 m (4 ft, 11.055 in) regulation? I’m guessing a number of exercise machines and weights may have to be removed.

 

Protection of the vulnerable

How would those with pre – existing conditions be protected in gyms? Asthmatics, for example?

Before the announcements of forced closure of gyms, New South Wales/ Australian Capital Territory gym franchise, Club Lime, put out a video on Facebook outlining cleaning routines expected from clients and staff to combat the virus.

Cleaning gym equipment after use is routine in the gym I go to. It’s expected that you wipe down any equipment you use with disinfectant wipes. Can these rules be stricter? How can they be further enforced?

Are frontline admin staff and trainers supposed to detect people who potentially have the virus? What if they don’t have any symptoms?

You can see why keeping gyms open could potentailly be problematic for gym owners, instructors and clients. I don’t think all gyms can ensure with 100% certainty that their gym would be safe. And for those with pre – existing conditions, this could spell disaster.

Exercises that can be done at home

Gyms are convenient way to exercise. Personally, I find that when I’m at the gym, I push myself harder than I normally would.

However, there are exercises you can do at home. You can use various household items as weights. I’ve rearranged furniture in my lounge room, so I could do a bit of dancing.

Walking and jogging on the spot is really good. I do it for five minutes, with each jogging and walking session lasting 20 seconds each. Of course, it’s imperative that we do more than that a day (an hour most days), but that’s a  start.

Here is more exercise ideas you can do. (For more ideas, just google ‘exercises when you can’t get to the gym and you’ll get exercise ideas that best suit you).

If you really want to keep up with your classes, find out if virtual classes of your exercise are available.

 

 

 

The closing down of gyms is unfortunate. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. There is just too much risk of infection for gyms to remain open right now. And, you can work out at home. You just need motivation.

What have you done to keep active during isolation? Let me know in the comments below.

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Drag Queen Story Hour protester dies

Content warning: bullying and suicide

Last week, University of Queensland’s Liberal National Club member, Wilson Gavin was found dead.

His death has been reported as a suicide.

Drag Queen Story Hour protests

On Sunday, 12 June, University of Queensland’s the Liberal National Club protested Drag QueenStory Hour at the Brisbane SquareLibrary.

The confrontation between drag queen, Diamond Goodrim  and Wilson Gavin, among others got heated. Children who were at the library reportedly got scared and distressed. The Liberal National Club protesters faced backlash over their conduct and timing of the protest. Some of the criticisms were from members of the Liberal/ National Party,

Footage of the protest was taken and posted on social media. The footage featured Gavin at the front of the protest having a heated confrontation with drag queen Diamond Good Rim.

 

I feel for Gavin’s family and friends. I can only imagine what they are going through. Suicide is tragic for everyone who knew the person.Things will never be the same for those left behind.

For a person to take their own lives, it’s highly likely that they were suffering terribly. Mental illness is listed as one of the biggest risk factors for suicide.

At only twenty – one, Gavin was also in the most vulnerable age bracket. While suicide can happen at any age, the age group with one of the highest suicide rate is 15 – 29.

Same – sex marriage campaign

Gavin was a vocal opponent of same – sex marriage in 2017.

LGBTQ+ opponents of same – sex marriage were unfairly accused of ‘betraying’ their own. Some were accused of having ‘internal homophobia’.

The public spat between Liberal staffer, Josh Manuatu and Mamamia founder, Mia Freedman was about just that. Freedman wrote a tweet about Manuatu’s relationship with MP, Eric Abetz and his public opposition to same – sex marriage. She ended the tweet with the rhetorical question if Manuatu had ‘internalised homophobia”.

I was critical of Freedman for that. LGBTQ+ people are bound to have a variety of social and political opinions.

The debate leading up to the postal vote was hard on LGBTQ+ people. Counselling services saw a spike in calls for help. I wonder how many LGBTQ+ people who opposed same – sex marriage also found the debate hard.

 

Conservatives respond

News of Gavin’s death has spread to the U.S. Many people have showed shock and dismay at the news like many Australians have.

Conservative Christian public speaker and author Elizabeth Johnson, a.k.a ‘The Activist Mommy’ wrote a post on her website lamenting Gavin’s death. I find it a bit hypocritical, considering she advocates ex – gay conversion, which has proven to contribute to LGBTQ+ youth suicide.

 

Whatever you think of Gavin’s actions that day, most can agree that what happened afterwards was tragic. It should send a warning to anyone thinking about bullying another person, including online.

 

 

If you are struggling with your mental health, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

For LGBTQ+ people, you can  contact Q Life: 1800 184 157 or via their webchat.

If you or anyone you know is in immediate danger, call 000 (or your national emergency number).