COVID-19 and how Paddington helps us bear it

Victoria University’s Elevenses Program is a unique initiative that for the past sixteen weeks has supported the mental health and well being of hundreds of staff members and students and now, the hugely successful program is going global.

As COVID-19 took hold in early March, Victoria University moved swiftly to ensure the safety, mental health and well being of staff and students remained a number one priority. VU found meaningful ways to make staff feel supported, connected and validate the extraordinary challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Each week day, Professor Alex Parker, a clinical psychologist and researcher in the Institute for Health and Sport delivers the VU Elevenses Program to staff and students, a 15 minute online session focusing on a range of topics with only one aim: to improve the well-being of participants.

Each session is developed in collaboration with university experts in the field of psychology, physical activity, and mental health.

The name was inspired by Michael Bond’s famous Paddington Bear, who enjoyed daily 11am chats with his friend Mr Gruber. While the title of the program is whimsical, the initiative has successfully impacted the audience in profound ways.

“We know that the program has significantly reduced participant’s experience of depression, anxiety and stress. The sessions are made up of mini-interventions and strategies to help people manage and maintain well being during this pandemic. We focus on ways to nurture ourselves and our loved ones, how to better manage such a massive disruption and most importantly, how to avoid being overwhelmed during the COVID-19 pandemic”, said Professor Parker.

Now, as Victorians head into Stage four lock-down, the first episodes of the VU Elevenses Program are free and available for sharing, with more added each week.

VU Elevenses videos on YouTube

Subscribe to the VU Elevenses YouTube channel and watch videos including:

To measure the impact of the program, Professor Alex Parker has also been conducting a weekly survey to collect data and capture engagement.

“We have seen terrific results so far. VU Elevenses continues to reach a large number of staff and students, and we are excited to have the opportunity to share this expert knowledge with the community in the west, and beyond. We hope our brief sessions on mental health, physical activity and well being are valuable during such difficult times.”

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