How many health kicks have you embarked on? Lost count? Do you find yourself year after year thinking ‘this time I’m going to lose the weight, exercise more, quit smoking, or stop eating takeaway every week’? Twelve months comes and goes and little progress has been made. If anything, it all feels all the more harder…
Life often gets in the way of prioritising our health. It can often be a case of ‘oh well, another day won’t hurt, I can always start tomorrow’. This is compound interest in effect. The aggregate of healthy behaviours and self-serving habits made consistently over time is good health: the aggregate of unhealthy behavious and self-sabotaging habits made consistently over time is poor health. Which decisions are going to be conducive to you living a happy and fruitful life?
To provide support for Queenslanders in this quest for a healthy lifestyle, the My Health for Life program has been created (and funded) by ‘Our Health Alliance’. This is an initiative of the Queensland Government in partnership with Diabetes QLD, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and others. You might have even seen the ad on TV. The best news: the program is free!
Who is eligible for the program?
There is a set eligibility criteria for the program, and it is as follows:
– Aged 45 years and over and have been identified by a health professional as being at high risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke,
– An Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person aged 18 years and over,
– Living with a pre-existing condition that puts you at high risk of developing chronic disease.
I am unsure if this is me. How can I discover more on my eligibility?
The best way to quantify your eligibility for the free MH4L program is to visit: https://www.myhealthforlife.com.au/, where you can complete a free health assessment online. I have also had many discussions with local GPs about the program; have a chat with them too about the program, and if they believe it could be a good fit for you.
My Health for Life is about behaviour change. Participants take part in a six-month program designed to help them move past barriers and hurdles that stand in the way of making healthy choices and positive lifestyle change. Groups consist of between six and fifteen participants. As facilitators of the program, it is our goal to provide a respectful and encouraging environment whereby participants feel comfortable to share their previous experiences, barriers for change, goals and intentions, and ultimately, their celebrations. It is very collaborative, positive and supportive!
The program entails one one-on-one appointment to begin, and five subsequent group-based sessions. Sessions #2 through to #5 are scheduled fortnightly, and session #6 is some three months after session #5, to allow for behaviour change and health goal progress/success.
I’ve tried something like this before and it didn’t work. What makes MH4L different?
The program is based around the following six pillars:
1. Support is key – support is provided in spades, both from ourselves the facilitator, and fellow group participants. The program also allows for a support person to be brought along to each session too.
2. Social connection – relationships and connections are built with likeminded individuals who have often been through similar health challenges. This enhances the likelihood that changes will be achieved over time.
3. Engagement – strategies are implemented to stay in touch between sessions, thus increasing the support available.
4. Coach – as facilitators, we are encouraged to coach rather than instruct. People innately do not enjoy being told what to do, especially when it comes to improving their health. When we coach, we better empower the patient to take responsibility for their own health.
5. Behaviour change – the program content is based on the behavior change proves whilst still providing healthy lifestyle information. Often patients report ‘knowing what to do’, it’s just how to do it and creating a mindset to foster this that they require help with.
6. Exit strategy – online tools and resources exist for participants after the program to ensure maintenance of healthy lifestyle behaviours.
Personally, I believe the program’s benefits lie in the collaborative nature of its sessions. As facilitators, we have noticed that the sessions soon take on a very positive vibe, where participants are happy to share their wins (and losses) and together as a group we workshop ideas and strategies to overcome any and all barriers.
What is behavior change, and if it’s so effective why haven’t I done any work on this before?
The My Health for Life program utilises the following behaviour change model:
We work closely with participants to establish their personal intentions for the program, and get specific with their ‘why’ for wanting to become healthier. Is it to reduce their diabetes risk knowing that each of their siblings have been grossly affected by the disease? Or to lose weight so they can play and be active with their children? It is a strong why that will see participants through the difficult times when the temptation of old habits rear up.
We work closely with participants to plan for success, and have them create an action plan outlining steps to achieve this.
We work closely with participants to overcome barriers and adjust for changes that will inevitably arise both during the program and after.
The model allows for constant review, and each step can be revisited at any time if necessary.
If I’m deemed eligible, what happens next?
Once you complete the online health assessment using the above link, you will be quantified as being at a low – medium – or high risk of developing a chronic disease such a type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or stroke. If your risk level exceeds a certain level, you will be eligible for the program. Thereafter, fill in your best contact details and a My Health for Life team member will contact you to inform you of upcoming program start dates based on your postcode. If Restart’s location suits you best, you will be added to our wait list and we will contact you to organise the first one-on-one appointment.
To date, at Restart we have completed programs at the following locations:
– Kenmore Hills,
– with workplaces, such as the Queensland Police Service.
With 2022 on the horizon, we will be allocating new program start dates soon. Be sure to keep an eye on our social media channels for updates!
To date, state-wide the program has had a 75% completion rate for those participants who commence session #1. This is a great indicator of the program’s success so far. Furthermore, the program has received additional funding to support its goals of creating happier and healthier Queenslanders not just now but into the future!
So what are you waiting for: get your health back on track with the help of Restart and My Health for Life today!
Ps don’t just take our word for it though…
“I recently completed the MH4L (My health 4life) program. With the support of Luke our group session facilitator, our goals, depending on our personal needs, ranged from getting more active, eating better, stressing less, and or to lose weight.
I can’t recommend this program (MH4L) enough. It is awesome that so many health organisations have joined with the QLD government to provide such a great FREE program.”
Donna, aged 48