New campaign to support Vic men at risk from alcohol harm during pandemic

A new Hello Sunday Morning and VicHealth campaign aims to reduce men’s risky drinking after research found middle-aged men were among the Victorians most at risk of harm from alcohol products during the coronavirus pandemic.

The VicHealth survey of 2,000 Victorians during the first coronavirus lockdown found men aged 45-54 years:

  • Reported drinking more frequently during the lockdown period compared with the state average (28% compared with 18%)
  • Were four times more likely to drink more than four standard drinks on a single occasion at least weekly than women of the same age (18% compared with 4%)
  • Stated the reason for drinking more was feeling anxious or stressed (64%) and being bored (61%).

In response to these concerning findings the new campaign will encourage men to download the Daybreak app where they can access anonymous support to reduce their use of alcoholic products.

The app allows people to set goals to reduce their harm from alcohol and work with health professionals to achieve them.

VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio said it was important that men had support to deal with feelings of anxiety and stress, rather than using alcohol as a coping mechanism.

“Coronavirus has created a lot of uncertainty for many people in our community. Concerningly and at the same time, we’ve seen an increase in advertising from the alcohol industry promoting their products as a way to cope and get through this tough time,” Dr Demaio said.

“Evidence suggests that many men – particularly older men – find it hard to talk about their emotions and have turned to alcohol during coronavirus to cope with stress and anxiety.

“We encourage men who’ve noticed they’re drinking more alcohol products than before coronavirus to download the Daybreak app to access confidential health advice and a supportive community to reduce their drinking and protect their health.”

Andy Moore, CEO of Hello Sunday Morning recognised the importance of using digital platforms to help to deliver key messages and showcase the benefits of a digital support service.

“VicHealth’s survey found many Victorian men were at higher risk of alcohol harm during the first coronavirus lockdown and we believe it’s an opportune time to talk to people about the potential for using technology to help them develop low-risk drinking habits,” Mr Moore said.

“Daybreak does this by providing a safe and anonymous space where new members can give and receive support from other people facing the same issues with their use of alcohol. We can also profile

new members to understand their personal goals and then recommend tailored activities chosen by behavior change experts, with evidence-based success.

“Curtin University assessed this approach last year amongst 293 Daybreak users, and found that average weekly alcohol consumption fell by more than half over three months.

“Users can work together with Hello Sunday Morning’s team of health professionals to track their personal progress through weekly check-ins, and a supportive online community, all within a secure environment.”

Find more about Daybreak

Visit also VicHealth (Australia, October 2020)

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