Victorian Institute of Sport

VIS - AIS Bushfire Mental Health Support

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

The current bush fire crisis has had a significant impact either directly or indirectly to our VIS Community. Therefore, the VIS Performance Lifestyle team are reaching out to you all with information, support and guidance.

The AIS Athlete Wellbeing & Engagement Mental Health team have provided information for us to distribute amongst our networks (athletes, staff, friends and family). Please take the time to read through the following:


What Helps From a Psychological Perspective:

Initial response in the days to weeks post the event

It is normal to have a range of emotional and behavioural reactions following a disaster such as a bushfire. For most people these will usually subside over days and weeks without the need for specialist mental health services. Psychological First Aid is a research-informed method to help people (including ourselves) in the immediate days and weeks which looks at the practical ways to support people by LOOKING for people with serious distress reactions, LISTENING to needs and concerns and LINKING people with social support, information and professional help if needed. When taking these types of steps we would look to promote a sense of SAFETY, CALM, CONNECTEDNESS, INDIVIDUAL AND COMMUNITY EFFICACY, and HOPE if we can. This is something that requires training for it to be most effective but here is some information for you about what it is and some of the things that we can all do now to be supportive to others who have been effected.

 The Australian Psychological Society has compiled a list of resources specifically for people effected by the bushfires. Please feel free to distribute. 

Beyond Blue have also provided the following information.

Specialist mental health support in the weeks to months post event

While most people will recover naturally from these traumatic events, we can expect that a minority of people will experience a response to trauma or loss that worsens or does not settle over the weeks and months post the event. With this is mind, the AIS Mental Health Referral Network (MHRN) has opened its availability to affected friends and family networks of our categorised athletes and staff in the high performance sports that we service.

If you or someone you know would like to seek support from the AIS MHRN contact can be made via phone 02 6214 1130 or by email This service is monitored weekdays by AIS AW&E Clinical Psychologists (Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm AEDST).

Upon referral, the Clinical Psychologist will discuss your needs and connect you with one of the mental health professionals. These professionals are available to be seen in person in their practices or available via phone or online video link, for those people who are living in the country, regional areas, or overseas. The MHRN service is provided at the AIS’ cost

This is in addition to the range of other services available from providers such as Lifeline (phone: 13 11 14) and Headspace (12 – 25 year olds and your local GP who can refer on for specialist support locally.


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