Mental health will be on everyone’s mind at this ignite event

The ignite event series is working with business to reaffirm Victoria as the nation’s knowledge capital.

On Friday 19 July, head to Victoria University’s Footscray campus for the ignite+VU event, ‘Mental health – it’s on everyone’s mind’, to find out how our state is leading the way in mental health research and solutions.

Launched in Melbourne last year, the ignite program is a 'TED Talk' style, free event where innovation experts take to the stage. Organised by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) the event series connects businesses with government and research institutions to develop and commercialise new and innovative products, services and business models and put Victoria on the map in both research and development.  

Tackling broad themes such as space tech, artificial intelligence, sports science and nanotechnology over six successful events so far, the series is an initiative between the Victorian Government, CSIRO, IP Australia, AusIndustry and Victorian universities, all brought together by VCCI. Success can be measured by the 81 industry-research collaborations that have been created to date.

"Ignite aims to showcase Victorian business and research as world leaders in innovation, technology and creativity," explains VCCI Chief Executive, Mark Stone AM. "We’re proud of this program, which continues to confirm that our state is the knowledge capital of Australia."

Linking mental health and productivity  

Profile image of Mark Stone‘Mental health – it’s on everyone’s mind’ may redefine the way you think about mental health, an issue where our state is currently leading the way with the Royal Commission into Victoria’s Mental Health System.  

The economic impact of mental health in business cannot be underestimated either. "Mental health in the workplace must be addressed to reinforce our local knowledge capital capabilities," explains Mark. Considering that challenge, in addition to this event, VCCI is working with its members to help them understand their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and other applicable legislation.  

Last October, VCCI launched the Mental Health Essentials program, supported by WorkSafe Victoria through the $17 million WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund. "Together," says Mark, "we offer free mental health training for medium-sized businesses who want to create more mentally healthy workplaces, because we understand how crucial it is."

Mental health tips from the experts

Profile image of Professor CraikeVictorian University Associate Professor Melinda Craike will be first to speak at ignite+VU, delving into how regular physical activity helps employees manage stress levels, which in turn, can improve productivity and performance. But her research has shown that these aren’t the only benefits.  

"Engaging in regular physical activity is associated with a six to 10 per cent wage increase," she says. "Both aerobic and strength-based physical activity appear to be important for improved productivity and performance at work."

Profile pic of SianAnother keynote speaker this Friday will be Victoria University Research Fellow at the Institute for Health and Sport (IHeS), Dr Siân McLean, who researches mental health through a body image lens. How an individual operates in the business world, according to Siân, is affected by the way they feel about their body.  

"The focus on appearance as a signifier of success, particularly for girls and women, may also have a negative effect on their career aspirations," she says. "If they internalise the message that appearance is the key factor for achievement, they may be less likely to think that they can have successful careers in occupations where appearance is not a factor. And when people value achieving a certain weight, or level of muscularity, over other achievements, they’re much less likely to be able to focus on and put energy and effort into important tasks in their business life."

Image of Professor ParkerAlso, IHeS Professor Alex Parker will focus on youth mental health, in particular depression. She’ll discuss how her research at Victoria University demonstrates that physical activity and exercise programs are effective strategies in reducing depression in those who are starting to show signs and symptoms, and in treating depression in those who have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder.  

The ignite+ VU event, 'Mental health: it’s on everyone’s mind' is on this Friday 19 July from 9-11 am at Victoria University’s Footscray Park campus. Channel Nine newsreader Alicia Loxley will be the MC. Limited places remain; reserve your free ticket now at the VCCI website.