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Ministry Of Sport Brain Health Week: Professor Jane Burns Talks Mental Wellness

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n the second instalment of Ministry of Sport Brain Health Week, Mind Medicine Australia director, Professor Jane Burns, spoke to Ministry of Sport founder, Ben Parsons about the importance of positive mental health and suicide prevention.

In Australia, suicide is the leading cause of death among people aged 15-44 and Professor Burns said once a person is in that dark space, it’s harder to get them out.

“Waiting until someone is so unwell that they need to speak to a counsellor or see a physician is too late,” Professor Burns told Ministry of Sport.

“We need to understand how to prevent youth suicide and what can be done from a strengths-based capacity building perspective, such as creating resilience in children and young people, so they are less likely to develop a mental illness throughout their lifespan.

“There has been a shift towards proactive outreach but there’s still more that needs to be done,” she said.

The fallout of COVID-19 has challenged sporting communities financially but has also threatened their sense of belonging and connection, Professor Burns said.

“We have to work hard as a society to think about how to stay connected and how to create new ways of connecting,” she said.

“Sport plays a big role and we need to re-imagine what this looks like in terms of local sporting and school clubs,” Professor Burns said.

Professor Burns said there’s no magic formula but there are certain things that can promote positive mental health such as good sleep hygiene, exercise, diet and limited alcohol consumption.

“It’s all about getting the balance right, it’s not about being perfect, it’s thinking about what things you can do to try to look after yourself,” she said.

To watch the rest of Professor Burns’ discussion with Ben Parsons, view here.

Keep an eye out on the Ministry of Sport website and social channels for the next video interview as part of the Ministry of Sport Brain Health Week, in association with Digital Health Organization.