Pedestrian.TV has partnered with VicHealth's Future Healthy to create a healthier future for Victoria's young people.

The past year has been increasingly difficult, particularly for the younger generation as many have had to put their dreams and careers on hold – at least for the moment.

And with so much anxiety cultivated from standing still, our social life has been dramatically impacted which has trickled down into a deeper pool of mental and physical health issues. 

However, VicHealth’s new initiative Future Healthy aims to create a Victoria where no young person is denied a healthy future, regardless of their postcode, bank balance, background or ability. Future Healthy is investing $45 million over three years in new programs to support people aged 0-25 across Victoria to reconnect socially and safely, get active, and access and enjoy good food.

But to help create this change, Future Healthy is calling all 18 to 25-year-olds across the state to share their stories of the daily struggles they face when it comes to health and wellbeing, and their ideas and vision for the future. In light of this new program, we asked Victoria’s young people about the most significant problems they face in the community, that prevents them from prioritising their wellbeing.

“It’s hard to make connections when you’re stuck inside.”

This alone is one of the greatest reasons for poor mental wellbeing during the pandemic. As coronavirus has caused the state to go in and out of lockdown, quicker than a flip switch, young people, in particular, have become increasingly isolated and detached from the rest of the world, let alone the neighbourhood. We can’t do the usual activities that connect us, and nobody can be bothered with Zoom calls anymore (no one wants to chat to a screen after spending all day on a screen), so our social momentum has plummeted. 

Additionally, if you’ve moved state or country recently, it’s been challenging meeting new people or cultivating friendships – especially when physical distancing and the 5km rule was in place. Plus, going a while without seeing people creates an opportunity for social anxiety to fester. Though we yearn for face-to-face interaction, the idea to actually be near people at the moment seems just as appealing as a Zoom call.

Talk about a rock and a hard place.

“So many people ‘exercising’ outside”

As parks have become the new social hang out, it’s made it increasingly difficult to exercise in public and physically distanced. Back in the day, you could run or Zumba without a care in the world, however with the surging amount of mystery cases in the community, and many people not wearing masks properly or at all, it’s become tricky for some of us to even exercise outside while physically distancing because of how many other people are ‘exercising’.

While virtual workout classes are effective, not leaving the confines of our home ultimately leads to cabin fever. It’s essential to have a change of scenery, even if it’s just for a few hours. Even though we know it’s good for us, it’s easy to see why working out has become the last priority and our physical health is at an all-time low.

“I don’t feel safe in my area”

Forget exercising, it’s hard to feel at ease just going for a casual stroll if you feel unsafe in your area. Feeling unsafe could be due to a myriad of problems. Whether you don’t feel included or there’s a lack of footpaths, parks or lighting in your area, it’s difficult to feel protected without being super vigilant and constantly looking over your shoulder.

Feeling safe shouldn’t be dependant on where you live, as every suburb should provide a sufficient amount of protection, and be a welcoming and safe place at all times.

“It costs more money to cook healthy food”

Though working remotely has allowed for more flexibility, it’s also shaken up our standard nine-to-five routine, as many of us are usually working overtime. Especially if you’re a small business or company, remote virtual work can be more time consuming, leaving very few hours in the day for you to meal prep.

Feeling stagnant in cooking is inevitable, but some innovative, cost-effective recipes could really make a world of difference. Having access to proper nutrition and food education would really help spark inspiration to make healthy, nourishing meals.

Pro tip: garlic powder and onion salt go a long way if you’re currently munching on some bland cottage cheese muffins.

“Travel restrictions”

This one’s a given.

To find out more and share your story or ideas, visit: futurehealthy.vichealth.vic.gov.au

Image: Loki