Healthy Relationship with Alcohol


Foster Healthy and Nutritious Habits around Alcohol


  1. Foster a healthy relationship with alcohol .
  2. ‘Food as medicine’ and ‘Food first’ approach.
  3. Promote nutritional interventions to assist natural detoxification and support liver function.


  1. Increase fibre, glutathione, brassicas and carotenoids for liver health
  2. Promote pre and probiotic microbiome enhancing foods
  3. Promote nutrient diversity to promote health


  1. Increase fibre, glutathione, brassicas and carotenoids for liver health
  2. Promote pre and probiotic microbiome enhancing foods
  3. Promote nutrient diversity to promote health

Carotenoid Rich Foods

Carotenoids are foods rich in yellow, orange and deep green pigments. While Vitamin A can be derived from carotenoid rich vegetables, it is found most abundantly in liver pates, eggs and oily fish like salmon and mackeral.

  • Watermelon
  • Tomatoes
  • Apricots
  • Cantaloupe
  • Mangoes
  • Sweet potato
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Butternut squash
  • Peppers
  • Carrots
  • Corn
  • Pate
  • Legumes – black eyed
  • peas
  • Pistachio nuts
  • Ricotta cheese
  • 1 tub or wedge of ricotta
  • 1/2 cup organic dried apricots,
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 4 Tblspns hot water
  • Juice of two oranges
  • 1 tspn organic vanilla essence
  • Walnut halves, lightly toasted
  • Oven 180

Place ricotta into oven proof dish and break apart slightly – creating valley’s for the apricot sauce. Place hot water, juice and apricots into a pan and set over low on stovetop. Let apricots soften before mixing through honey and vanilla essence. Let simmer and reduce. Pour mix over ricotta. Place in oven and cook, letting ricotta turn golden before removing. Serve with toasted walnuts.


Glutathione Rich Foods

Glutathione is known as a master anti-oxidant, protecting cells from oxidative stress, protecting against toxins and assisting immune response. In the liver,
glutathione assists bilirubin production, protein and enzyme activity, promoting detoxification and increasing the health of the liver

  • Watermelon
  • Tomatoes
  • Avocado
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Asparagus
  • Mustard Greens
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Turnip Greens
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Sweet potato
  • Bok Choy
  • Green leafy herbs

Nuts and seeds are also a delicious way to encourage minerals and glutathione production.

  • Broccoli florets
  • Cauliflower florets
  • 6 Brussels Sprouts, halved
  • 1 Brown onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Coconut
  • Amino Acids – BBQ
    flavour OR BBQ sauce of choice
  • Salt and pepper – to taste
  • Oven 180deg

Place all vegetables into a bowl. Mix the olive oil, Coconut amino acids (or
BBQ sauce of choice) and garlic , then coat vegetables with marinade. Place in baking dish Roast until caramelised – about 20 mins , covering in marinade often.. Serve with tzatziki, roasted potatoes and meat of choice These are also delicious in a pita pocket with falafel and tzatziki!


Functional Fluids

Encourage gut health with simple Functional Fluids

  • 1/4 cup pineapple pieces
  • 1 tetrapak coconut water
  • 4 Tblspns yoghurt of choice
  • Small handful baby spinach leaves
  • 1 tspn each
    Slippery elm
    Green Banana Resistant Starch
  • OPTIONAL: 1 kiwifruit

Place in Nutribullet and blend until smooth

  • 1 Mango
  • 1 tetrapak coconut water
  • 4 Tblspns yoghurt of choice
  • 1 Tblspn oats
  • 1 carrot, sliced and steamed to soften (refrigerate until ready to use)
  • 1 tspn each
    Slippery elm
    Green Banana Resistant Starch

Place in Nutribullet and blend until smooth. Add more coconut water or plain water if a lighter texture is desired


  • V8 Vegetable Juice Options
  • Coles brand smoothies
  • Flavored kefir with 1 banana

Liver and Gut Healing Soups

Ready-made and healthy? I am on it. Before pouring any beverages, create your snacks, promoting a healthy ‘food first’ philosophy.

  • 1 packet Chicken ready-made bone broth – or jar/packet to 1 ltr
  • 1 brown onion, diced
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 2 Zucchini
  • 1 good handful baby spinach
  • half bunch parsley
  • Few leaves of kale – remove stalks and crush before adding to soup to cook
  • 1 block creamy feta
  • Olive oil

Add oil to pot set over medium heat and brown onion. Add stock to pot. Add all vegetables and simmer until softened. Remove from heat, blend slightly with
stick blender, add crumbled feta and blend until smooth. Place in bowl and add swirl of olive oil. Serve with sourdough toast.

  • 1 Ltr ready made chicken bone broth or jar/packet to 1 ltr
  • 1 400g crushed tomatoes
  • 1 packet Woolies ‘cook simmer’ veggie mix, add any other veggies you have in your fridge
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small tin 4 bean mix
  • 1/4 cup mini macaroni
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 lengths of chives and parsely to serve
  • Little butter or oil

Add butter or oil to soup pot and add crushed garlic, saute lightly then add bone broth, bay leaves, pasta and veggies. Boil veg and pasta until pasta is al dente. Remove bay leaves and add tomatoes and rinsed 4 bean mix. Taste and add little salt and sugar if needed. nSimmer to warm tomatoes Serve in wide bowls with sourdough toast. Make this a 1 dish wonder by adding pulled charcoal chicken Garnish with chopped chives and parsley.


Quick and Simple Snacks

Ready-made and healthy? I am on it. Before pouring any beverages, create your snacks, promoting a healthy ‘food first’ philosophy.

  • 1 ready-made pizza base – check out  Picasso’s cauliflower pizza base for
    added fiber
  • 1/2 sweet potato, cubed
  • Small handful rocket leaves
  • Red capsicum, sliced
  • 1 chili – optional
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • OPTIONAL EXTRAS: Grated parmesan or tasty cheese, olives, mushrooms,
    basil leaves

Turn oven onto 200deg Fry off sweet potato in a little olive oil, adding crushed garlic and chill (if using it)

Cook just to color – it will continue to cook in oven.

Spread base with pizza sauce and arrange vegetables – leave rocket off as this is to be added after pizza comes out of oven to maintain nutrients. Sprinkle over cheese if desired.

Cook until pizza base starts to color. Remove from oven and add rocket.

Serve with a big glass of flavored kombucha – it even comes in cola flavor!



Quick and Simple Dinners

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 capsicum – color of choice, diced
  • 1 potato, diced
  • 1 brown or red onion
  • Baby spinach
  • 1/4 block feta
  • OPTIONAL: pumpkin, diced (small piece)
  • Extra tasty cheese
  • 1/2 cup milk of choice
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic – 3 cloves, crushed
  • Vegeta/powdered chicken stock/salt and pepper

In an over proof frypan set over medium, add oil, onion, potato, garlic and pumpkin (if using it). Fry until golden, add capsicum and soften

Mix eggs with milk – season to your liking, I love vegeta and powdered chicken stock, as it sets the veggie flavours off. Pour egg mix over veggies, add crumbled fetta and let frittata set over medium to low heat. Sprinkle tasty cheese on top, and add good handful baby spinach. Finish off under grill, cooking until cheese has turned golden. Serve with a side salad.

Nutrient diversity is easy to achieve with platters! Get creative and prepare a delicious easy, one dish meal, and as my goto for Friday night dining, platters are a healthy option to takeaway

Nutrient diversity is easy to achieve with platters! Get creative and prepare a delicious easy, one dish meal,
and as my goto for Friday night dining, platters are a healthy option to takeaway




Quick Links


Food to help Reduce Mild Anxiety and Depression


Anxiety and depression can affect so many aspects of our well-being. Assist mood with calming foods and avoid those that may contribute to symptoms.

Foods to avoid/reduce

Trytophan, Serotonin and Melatonin

Serotonin and its precursor tryptophan assist with symptoms of anxiety and feeling ‘wired but tired’, with the final neurotransmitter in this cascade, melatonin, promoting sleep. Serotonin is implicated in mechanisms such as social interaction, nutritional status and immunity , while also being involved in controlling negative thoughts and stress response.

Enjoy the following foods to reduce anxiety and promote sleep:

Banana and Green banana resistant starch contain a nutrient called 5-HTP, a precursor to serotonin, a healthy, easy way to boost mood. 

Kiwifruit may assist in promoting sleep and shortening the time it takes to fall asleep.

Salmon contains tryptophan, an amino acid that is a precursor (building block) of serotonin.

Turkey also contains tryptophan, and is rumoured to be the reason for the snooze after Thanks Giving!

Tart Cherry promotes melatonin production [5] assisting the ability to fall asleep and calm the mind. Look for this in a concentrated sugar free syrup.

Nuts and seeds are a great sources of minerals, one of which, magnesium, assists in relaxing muscles and promoting calm. Nuts contain melatonin in differing amounts.


To produce dopamine, tyrosine (and phenylalanine) are required, with sources mainly obtained through protein in the diet. Low dopamine is associated with lack of motivation, depression and mental exhaustion . The following foods can assist with low mood, or at particularly stressful times such as during exams or a heavy work load.

Eggs are a great source of phenylalanine while also being a light healthy protein option.

Avocadoes, a rich source of tyrosine, make the perfect combination with eggs – think of having an egg/avo smash on sourdough for a mood boosting breakfast.

All proteins; lamb, beef, pork, chicken, turkey and salmon, along with dairy and soy are rich sources of tyrosine.

For vegetarians, legumes can offer a plant-based option, look to consume lima beans in particular. Sesame seeds also offer a rich source.

Cacao is a beautifully uplifting food, with trace amounts of zinc, manganese, calcium, copper, iron and potassium. Creating a cacao elixir before bed is a lovely way to switch off from the day,

Choc cherry latte
1 tspn cacao
1 Dessertspoon tart cherry syrup
1/2 tspn organic vanilla essence
1 cup Coconut or macadamia milk

Sweetener of choice

OPTIONAL: Vegan marshmallows, 3
Warm milk though and add all other ingredients, mixing until combined.

Pour into cup and add marshmallows.

Serve warm to hot.

Find space, still your mind and breath


GABA is a calming neurotransmitter, with symptoms of anxiety leading to mild panic attacks, insomnia – inability to fall and stay asleep – and constantly wanting to be busy, symptoms common at times when our mind wont allow us to rest. Taurine is a precursor, with intolerances to foods such as wheat and gluten reducing availability of GABA.

Shellfish are a rich source of taurine, so foods like scallops, mussels and crab, along with edible seaweeds and tuna are beneficial sources

Calming theanine, found in green tea and matcha, assists GABA, while not being a direct source, theanine enhances GABA production to calm the mind and help to promote sleep.

Calming Matcha Tea
1 tspn Matcha powder
1/2 tspn organic vanilla essence
1 cup coconut or macadamia milk

OPTIONAL: sprinkle of nutmeg Warm milk through and add matcha powder and vanilla.

Pour into cup and sprinkle with nutmeg.
Serve warm/hot

  1.  Effect of kiwifruit consumption on sleep quality in adults with sleep problems – PubMed ( , Hsiao-Han Lin 1, Pei-Shan Tsai, Su-Chen Fang, Jen-Fang Liu
  2.  Serotonin and stress, F Chaouloff 1, O Berton, P Mormède
  3.  Roles of brain monoamine neurotransmitters in agonistic behavior and stress reactions, with particular reference to fish. Comp Biochem Physiol Part C: Pharmacol, Toxicol Endocrinol106:597–614, Winberg S , Nilsson GE, 1993.
  4. 5-Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) for AnxietyAn effective and safe natural treatment of anxiety.Posted Oct 08, 2018, James Lake (MD)
  5.  Pilot Study of the Tart Cherry Juice for the Treatment of Insomnia and Investigation of Mechanisms. American journal of therapeutics, 25(2), e194–e201, Losso, J. N., Finley, J. W., Karki, N., Liu, A. G., Prudente, A., Tipton, R., Yu, Y., & Greenway, F. L. (2018)
  6. file:///C:/Users/61409/Documents/AMINO%20ACID%20INDICATIONS%20DOSAGE%20CONTRA%20INDICATIONS/Neurotransmitter_Chart.p
  7. The potential protective effects of taurine on coronary heart disease – PubMed (

By SAM MURPHY,  Nutrition and Dietetic Medicine (BHSc)

Notice the Moments

Too often we go through days with little attention to the details. The moments. The stillness in the business. I was standing near some people overhearing their conversation. The themes were all about not noticing. People were saying things like “how did this happen. I can’t believe my child is at school already” Or “I never noticed that…” Or “the day started, then it ended”.  When our heads are busy, we miss what is happening in THIS moment. It’s so easy to do. Plan for the day, remind yourself of things to do, go over conversations, listen to negative thoughts and the list goes on and on. Our minds constantly chatter and in listening to the chatter, we miss vital moments in the here and now. The paying attention to moments, mindfully is an important skill that many psychologists now try to teach clients. It’s the moment-to-moment awareness that helps reduce mood and other problems. It sounds simple but it’s incredibly difficult to do. The urge is to ‘think’ and our minds are great at constantly ‘thinking’, ‘planning’, ‘worrying’. By taking a moment to notice what is around you and what is going on in present, we learn to pay less attention to our thoughts. This allows us to enjoy what is happening in a mindful and engaged way. Psychologists claim that developing skills in mindfulness practice can go along way to increasing our sense of a rich and meaningful life and reduce stress and anxiety. Give it a go…try and notice something new today that perhaps you’ve never noticed. Pay attention to the chatter of the mind but focus on what is happening in the here and now.  Ask yourself, “am I going to trust my mind or my experience?”.

Hita Mistry

Clinical & Forensic Psychologist

There is light during COVID‑19

Imagine for a moment, back to when we were pondering about what 2020 had in store for us and considering our “New Years” resolutions, if someone said to you….”In 2020 you life is going to be very different to anything you have ever known before. You won’t be allowed to see friends or family, go to work/school and even going to the gym was definitely out”. Maybe you would have burst out laughing and proceeded to say “that would NEVER happen!”

Five months into 2020, and….this is our new “normal”. Restrictions on seeing friends and family, no gym, no restaurants or cafes, and work/school is so different to how we usually know it. Many of us made huge adjustments to life and now as restrictions are beginning to ease, we need to make huge adjustments again. 

Let’s start by acknowledging that this is an unprecedented event and we are in the midst of a global pandemic. It is never been more important to look after ourselves with the priority being to be safe and manage daily living as best we can. Someone individuals are going to be able to manage with little to no impact on their well-being, however, the reality is many of us are either struggling or having difficult days here and there. 

Despite these challenging times we face, so many of us might be taking on more responsibilities….whether it be at work, putting in extra hours or undertaking different responsibilities. As a business owner trying to save your business and think of innovative ideas to stay afloat. As a parent…you are now a school teacher, dance teacher or sports coach trying to ensure to continue your child’s education while still maintain your role as a parent. Or maybe you have found yourself out of work and are now learning the world of job seeking and budgeting. As most of us find ourselves trying to adapt to keep our lives running as “normal” as possible, we may find ourselves struggling in some way or another. I’d like to take a moment to say “well done, I can see you are doing the best you can, and it is ok you have some difficult days that you feel you can’t ‘keep it together’. It is ok!”.

There are a number of key signs you may want to keep an eye out for to help check in with yourself and your well-being in this time of uncertainty. Some behavioural warning signs may include: sleeping difficulties, procrastination and avoidance of tasks, excessive activity levels (are you taking on more and more AND MORE?), crying easily, more conflict within relationships, feeling on edge all the time, withdrawal and isolation (beyond the social distancing rules! Do you find yourself not answering the phone and avoiding social connection) and have you found yourself drinking more alcohol, taking drugs or other medications? 

Physical warning signs are also important to keep a watch on during the COVID-19 crisis. Are you feeling exhausted? Eating more or less? Increase in somatic complaints e.g. headaches? And the not so fun changes to our gastrointestinal system? 

Sometimes we notice a rollercoaster of emotions during a crisis. Are you feeling sad, depressed, anxious, fear or worry? Maybe you are experiencing irritability, anger, hopelessness, self-doubt or guilt?

This is a time to acknowledge that we are in the midst of a global pandemic. The situation creates fear, uncertainty and sickness (perhaps you have contracted COVID-19 or know someone who has or more sadly, lost someone. We are in survival mode and in that space, we might expect to be having any of the above responses to the changes we have experienced so far in 2020. Being kind to yourself is part of self-care, “it is ok to not be ok”. 

What you need right now is maybe to take a break, or do something fun or relaxing. Reach out for support to your loved ones or to other professional services. This is a time where it is vital to look after ourselves, to get through this challenging time. Take some time to create a routine, aim to get plenty of sleep, maintain physical activity and eat a well-balanced diet. If you are working or studying from home, then it is important to allocate specific work hours and breaks to maintain a work/life balance. And finally do something you enjoy, whether it be your favourite TV show, or something creative or sporty or finding a cosy space to read a book….take some time just for YOU

By acknowledging that this is a challenging road and it may impact on your well-being and resilience, we can collectively support each other and find ways to get the best quality of life. If you are feeling unusually vulnerable or less able to manage yourself then there are various support services in place including Lifeline (13 11 14). Sometimes talking problems through and learning strategies to deal with mental health can increase your sense of confidence and ability to manage things going forwards. Sometimes the support from a psychologist can be a turning point to lasting changes and improvements to your life. Our team at  Emerald Psychology Practice are on board with supporting the local community through this difficult time. Our psychologists are trained in helping to manage many conditions including depression, anxiety, grief, stress and coping and so on. So, if you need additional assistance, please call to start the process of recovery. 

Stefany Klein

“I just fancy a beer”

When does it change from “I just fancy a beer” to “I’m addicted to alcohol”? The short answer is, the transition can be slow and progressive and sometimes not even obvious to the individual. Often those around us detect the problem before we are aware of it. Alcohol, unlike most other drugs, is interesting. Firstly, it is legal! It is also easily accessible, promoted in society as normal, engrained in our culture and advertised in mainstream media. It is associated with having a good time, relaxing, socialising and managing stress. The one fact that often gets missed amongst these messages is that it is a drug of addiction with potentially harmful effects. Addiction to alcohol, like addiction in general, does not always occur with the individual intending for it end that way. People may drink responsibly for many years but the onset of a major life stressor could change the relationship to alcohol from enjoying a drink with friends to using it to manage stress. Others may have used alcohol for many years to cope or manage other problems such as anxiety or depression. In fact, for many, the thought that they may have an alcohol addiction is met with “no, not me! I’m just social drinker” or “I’m not addicted, I just enjoy a few beers at the end of the day” or “I could give it up anytime, I just don’t want to”.

There are some factors that indicate alcohol might be a problem. Do you recognise any of these in yourself or others; does alcohol affect your work? Does alcohol affect your relationships? Has alcohol started effecting your mood, mental health or sleep? Has alcohol intake increased over time? Does alcohol use cause financial strain? These are just a few questions to consider. Alcohol addiction can result in many long-term problems. There are now several proven physical health problems associated long-term alcohol misuse along with many other mental health issues. The social cost of alcohol addiction can also be great. It can cause family discord and even family separation. The problem of addiction is not one dimensional and so seeking support can be very important.

We are experiencing an extremely challenging time with COVID-19 and perhaps our usual coping strategies are not available to us. Many of us have resorted to increased alcohol use as a way of coping and managing and its use feels justified at the moment. If alcohol use is starting to feel out of control or problematic, it is important to take a step back and think about the issue more broadly. Understanding what underlies addiction and consequently, what maintains the problems are both crucial to recovery. Working together with professionals and loved ones will always give the best outcomes. Whilst it can be daunting to take the first step…the grass will be greener on the other side.

Useful links:

Life line  13 11 44—Information/Substance-Abuse—Addiction/Substance-Abuse-and-Addiction

Facts and resources about alcohol and drugs

Family drug support Australia  1300 368 186

Youth support and advocacy service  1800 458 685

Australia’s leading alcohol and drug search directory

The Winter Blues

It’s a common saying these days… “I’ve got the winter blues” but what does it mean and why do we experience this phenomenon? The term blues has become synonymous with sadness and depression since the 16th Century. Blueswas shortened from ‘blue devils’ from 1616 and during the 18th Century, it was further shortened to ‘blues’. Towards the end of the 19th Century we saw the rise of the blues music – a type of melancholic jazz music that derived from the sadness of funeral songs of slavery and oppression.

There is much written about feeling blue or sad during the winter months and psychologically, this is a diagnosable condition. The essential features of this is the feeling of low mood, flatness, melancholic or depressed. In addition, people may notice problems with sleep, concentration, feeling agitated, poor motivation and energy levels or changes in appetite. The onset of this is typically when the season changes to winter. There are a number of possible explanations for why this occurs. The first is related to light. We all know that daylight is important for mood so in the winter months, when there is less sunshine and daylight, people may experience changes in mood. The lack of light affects our body and sleep rhythm and can even create hormonal imbalances. Also during winter, our outdoor options may be limited where we are unable to do as much of the usual things with nature that make us feel connected and grounded.

It is important to be aware of how the winter months affect your mood. Do you notice changes in yourself over winter? Do you dread winter? Do you stop doing things that you would normally do? Have others commented on how your mood changes over winter? Checking in with ourselves and noticing either subtle or big changes is the first step. If you are impacted by seasonal change, the second step is to change your winter routine. Just like you have a summer and winter wardrobe with clothes, see if you can extend this to a lifestyle change. Plan for winter activities such as visiting the snow. Mindfully notice the beautiful changes in nature as trees change colour and shed their leaves. Prepare wholesome winter recipes that keep you warm on a cold winter day. Stock up on fun family activities such as board games so you can enjoy indoor space together. The aim here is to embrace the winter months as an opportunity to do things you wouldn’t get to do in the summer.

For some, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a serious and problematic mental health concern and so, if you become significantly depressed during winter, it may be important to consult with a psychologist for a more comprehensive assessment and support. Psychologists can help you develop strategies that manage symptoms of depression and some basic changes can yield long-term, positive outcomes.
The take home message is that winter doesn’t have to be blue…

Hita Mistry

Principal Clinical & Forensic Psychologisy

Time for YOU

Don’t underestimate the importance of a little time for yourself everyday. For some, this statement alone will evoke instant thoughts of “I’d love to but I can’t”, “I don’t have time”, “I’m too busy with work and family”. There is always something more important than YOU. Why is this? In my work with clients, common themes that people talk about are a sense of guilt for doing something for themselves, or unworthiness that somehow their wellbeing isn’t as important as others. Some describe hectic days where they physically can’t find half hour in and others have been so busy with work or raising a family that they have forgotten what they enjoy. So, despite all these obstacles, why is it important to still try and find time for you? The irony is that when people are stressed, overloaded, overwhelmed and busy they are often less present, less available and enjoy life less. Life can start to feel like you’re on autopilot – just getting through each day like you’re on a hamster wheel. I liken it to the analogy of being on a treadmill with the speed set slightly faster than your legs can manage but not being able to get off! I’m sure many of you reading this can relate to this!

By taking some time for yourself each day, you may feel more present, feel less stressed, more tolerant and enjoy more things in life. Try it as a test – set aside as little as 10 minutes to do something you enjoy. This could be reading a book, going for a short walk, having a bath, listening to music, sitting in peace and quiet, meditating and the list goes on. Do the activity in a ‘mindful’ way meaning being very present as you do it and not thinking about what you have already done or what you need to do later! At the end, notice how you feel. And notice what difference it makes to the rest of your day. Time for YOU is not really time for YOU – by taking time for you, you’re able to give more of YOU to those you love and the things you care about so think of time for YOU as time for LIFE.

By Hita Mistry

Clinical & Forensic Psychologist

Find the Right Mental Health Service for you

Find the Right Mental Health Service for you

Mental Health services can be complex, changeable, and it can be a challenge to find just the right options for a person in a specific situation.

As a result of our lockdown experiences we are seeing an increased demand for mental health services across a range of services, and waiting lists for psychologists have hit record lengths. Consider the range of services that are available to find the services that are the best fit for you. Here are some options to consider while figuring this out, or waiting for the right service to become available.

It’s worth persisting to find out what your needs are and what people, services, or interventions can be helpful to you.  Sometimes identifying what the problem is, or what is the change you want, can be an important step towards finding a solution, and is often something that a psychologist can assist with.

When to seek out mental health services?

……for yourself

 At times of crisis, when you have severely depressed mood, harmful behaviours, or thoughts of ending your life.

 When you are experiencing big changes in behaviours or distressing experiences.

 When difficulties are persistent over weeks or months and are disrupting your ability to do your normal work, family, or recreational roles and activities.

 When you are not thriving and not satisfied.  It’s a good idea to seek mental health or personal development support when you want to be functioning better.  You don’t need to be in crisis to benefit from gaining self-awareness and skills that help you to be the person you want to be.   

 …….for others

 When you have a loved on or someone in your care that is showing signs of crisis, risky behaviour, or unusual changes in their behaviour, it is a good idea to support them to seek assistance if you can, or otherwise consult with a healthcare professional to better understand what can be done.  In an emergency you can contact crisis services, or consult specialist services for information and guidance.

 ……..for friends, family, carers

 Those providing caring to a person with mental health needs can experience considerable stress themselves, and carers services can be helpful.

 Carers Victoria has a phone line as well as links to practical and counselling resources.

 Consider the right match for you, including:


Do you prefer face to face or online services.  How far might you need to travel, how often will you need to attend and how much of your time might a mental health intervention require? 


There is a range of public and private services with a mix of costs and funding options.  There are many  low or no cost options, however they may also have a waiting period, or limits on their services.  Private services may cost more, however you may have a much broader choice to select a preferred service provider.  Funding for services are often available from medicare, private health insurance, TAC, Workcover, Employee Assistance Programs and NDIS.

Quality of practice

Consider what quality of care you are looking for, and whether treatments are in accordance with evidence based practice and treatment guidelines for specific conditions.

 You may like to consider what accreditation, qualifications, or experience a mental health practitioner might have, the may be registered practitioners with the Australian Health Practitioners Registration Agency, they may belong to an association, or may be practitioners without a regulating body.

Some other considerations that ethical practitioners keep in mind are to practice within their area of expertise and experience and place your best interests as a priority.  They are happy to consider referral to others services that might be a better match for you, and provide realistic expectations, so they don’t promise unrealistically quick and simple cures.

Relationship with health care provider

The quality of a relationship with a therapist providing mental health interventions, or therapeutic alliance, has been found to be a significant factor in the effectiveness of treatment, and about as important as they type of interventions that are being provided.  It is important that you feel comfortable, listened to and respected, that the goals of therapy are developed together, and that review and feedback about how the treatment is sought regularly.  It can also be important to have an idea of how long the treatment is estimated to take.   

 Ask your GP for a recommendation, or other trusted people.

 If the first provider is not right for you, don’t give up, try another.

 What local face to face services are available?

 Community Health Centers

These centers provide a range of helpful physical and mental health services, at low or no cost, by experienced professionals, such as counselling for children, families and adults, physiotherapy, dieticians, podiatry, and diabetes specialists.

 Inspiro (Belgrave and Lilydale) 03 9028 0153

 EACH Upper Ferntree Gully)  1300 003 224

 Monash Health (Pakenham, Cockatoo and Berwick)  1300 342 273

 Public Mental Health Services

Important for mental health crisis, severe or complex disorders.  Referral via 24 hour Psychiatric Triage phone line.

 Eastern Health 1300 721 927

 Monash Health 1300 369 012

Private Psychologists and other mental health practitioners

See your GP for a mental health plan for medicare subsidised sessions.  Funding can also be available for psychological services for TAC, Workcover, Employee Assistance Programs, Victims of Crime, NDIS

Youth mental health service:

(locations in Pakenham and Narre Warren)

What specialist services are available? 

(many are now online)

Trauma – Centers against Sexual Assault

 Domestic Violence – 1800 RESPECT

Relationship Services:

(locations in Berwick, Cranbourne, and Cranbourne North)

Substance Use

 SECADA (South East Drug and Alcohol Services) 1800 142 536

 Not for profit associations that specialise in particular mental health difficulties and disorders can provide specialised supports. There are many of these association, some examples:



Eating Disorders Victoria:

Bereavement from death of a child

Borderline Personality Disorder:

Mental Health Support:

 Lived experience and peer educators can be valuable supports.  It can be helpful and hopeful to hear from others that have had similar difficult experiences.

SANE Australia is an organisation that provides links to lived experienced stories and services.

When you need someone to talk to now…….

 If risk of harm is significant please consider whether emergency or crisis services are needed:

 Calling ambulance or attending the local Emergency Department

Local psychiatric triage 24-hour phone services:

Eastern Health 1300 721 927

Monash Health 1300 369 012

Gippsland 1300 363 322

Domestic Violence 24 hours phone line 1800 737 732

Consider online and phone services that are available to provide professional mental health support, some are staffed 24 hours, and some also have online chats and other useful information.

Lifeline 131 114

Beyond Blue 1300 22 4636

Suicide Call back line 1300 659 467

Mens Line Australia 1300 789 978

Kids Helpline 1800 551 800

When you have to wait for a service……

 While it is important to receive the individual professional service that you need, please see this list of resources and strategies that may be useful at when there is a delay accessing this.

Reducing your stress and demands by taking time of work or asking for help from family or friends.  Your GP is likely to assist you with a medical certificate to take sick leave from work if needed. 

 Make an additional time to check in with existing supports, helpful friends and family, existing services, or your GP.

 Consider online courses from evidence-based providers, such as:

Katerina Volny, Emerald Psychology Practice

Top 12 nature walks in and around the Dandenong Ranges for those experiencing mobility challenges

For those with low mobility, chronic pain or illness, a disability, or recovering from an injury, you can still enjoy the benefits of nature in this beautiful part of the world. Here is a guide to some

accessible places with descriptions of what to expect when you get there. Everyone deserves to enjoy nature.

Before you start, consider: What are your needs?

  • Ask your GP, Physiotherapist, Osteopath, or other relevant health professionals for guidance.
  • How far can I comfortably walk?Start with this, and gradually increase if you think that’s a good idea. It can be rewarding to come back to the same location another time and explore a little further.
  • Are you best on more even and relatively flat paths?– this guide will describe the nature of the paths you will encounter so you can plan a comfortable experience. If in doubt, just walk a short way and find a spot to take in the nature around you. See the mindfulness guide at the end of this article for some ideas.
  • You might benefit from support, and enjoy the company, of a friend, a personal trainer, or another support person.
  • Comfortable footwear can help a lot.For flat trails walking or sports shoes are fine. When you start trying steep, slippery. or rocky trails hiking shoes with a good grip are best. Hiking poles can provide additional stability, and they will take a bit of practice to get used to.
  • Clothing right for the weather forecast, sunscreen, snake awareness, water and food, and phone reception (can be a bit patchy in the Dandenong Ranges), are all important considerations to make your walk safe and enjoyable.
  • About snake awareness: In warmer months especially, walk where you can see the path ahead of you, stop if you see a snake, and let them go on their way.You might prefer to wear long pants and covered shoes for protection. If a person is bitten ensure they stop moving, call 000, and immobilise and bandage the limb (you can get snake bandages that show you how tightly to stretch the bandage).
  • A great little first aid guide from the red cross:
  • Did you know? Parks Victoria has a disability access program in the Sherbrooke Forest.Volunteers support all-terrain wheelchair access with specially designed chairs for the forest. For more information see the website:

Some top easy-access spots:

Emerald Lake Park – from main Car Park
Emerald Lake Road, Emerald

At this location, there is a flat path around the lake with beautiful views and plenty of birdlife, and it is also a station for the puffing billy steam train. Parking fees of $6 per day apply. Toilets are available, and dogs on the lead are allowed. This area is suitable for prams and wheelchairs. Additional paths can be explored. For a longer walk try the path near the bridge across the lake where there is a wide flat gently sloping gravel path through the ferns.

Emerald Museum area
Crichton Rd, Emerald

This area can be less busy than Emerald Lake Park. It has some heritage gardens to explore on a gentle slope, and at times the museum may also be open. For a longer walk of about 3kms return with a well-made path on a hill, there are several sloping gravel paths that lead down towards Emerald Lake Park. Take the one on the left as you head down for a less steep incline.

271 Mt Morton Rd, Belgrave Heights

For best accessibility park at the car park inside the park. From here you can take the trail past the notice board. A 1km loop will take you past one lake and to a view of another, stick to the left to get back to the car park. For a 2km loop go around the large lake as well, and enjoy the birdlife of Birsdland, which actually got its name after the original owners, the Birds family. Picnic facilities and toilets are available, and dogs are welcome on leads. The longer walk of about 2kms takes you around the second lake as well and leads you past a designated dog swimming area. The path is suitable for prams and wheelchairs.

Another option is to take the road that is heading past the car park, and then take the trail on your right. In a couple of hundred meters, there is a gate on your left to a wetland boardwalk – this is a peaceful place to listen to the frog songs. For a short but very steep uphill walk, take the path off to the left of this road and you will be rewarded with city views at the top.

Wrights Forest
Corner of Wright Rd and Dalziel Rd, Avonsleigh

There is a parking space on this corner with a mild slope, leading on to Wright track, a flat wide gravel path. You can walk up to about 3kms return on this path, or for a longer walk take paths to the left or right going up or down the hill. Dogs on leads are allowed.

Cardinia Reservoir
Cardinia Creek Road, Emerald

There are two easy-access options for this location. Go straight ahead from Cardinia Creek Road and park at the first car park at the top to have access to the flat walk with spectacular views along the dam walls. Sometimes you can spot kangaroos sunbathing down below. Continue past the first car park and then turn right to get to the bottom car park to access the parkland below with flat paths. Picnic areas and toilets are at this location. Kangaroos are often spotted here early or late in the day. If you would like to go further there is a hillside path between these two locations. Other hilly paths with reasonably well-made paths around the edge of this park totaling about a 7km loop.

Sherbrooke Forest
Grants Picnic Ground, Monbulk Rd, Kallista

This is a popular tourist spot with a cafe and toilets. To get to a peaceful spot with a flat path turn right upon entry to the picnic ground and head to the very end of the parking section. From here there is a beautiful relatively flat path with tall trees. Sometimes wildlife is seen here. There is also a flat path alongside the car park heading back to the cafe with information about local wildlife. Outside the shop, there is signage to show you another short but hilly walk on the other side of the cafe. The entire loop track of this section of Sherbrooke Forest includes steep hills and is about 8km long. You could also walk up to the Kallista main street from here and enjoy some beautiful shops and cafes.

Sherbrooke Forest
Conner Grantulla Rd and Neuman Track, Kallista

There are several parking spots that allow entry to the Sherbrooke Forest along Grantulla Rd. This one allows for relatively flat path walking in both directions, towards Kallista you will head towards the Cooks Corner tea rooms (about 1km), and away from Kallista, you will head towards a clear with dragons’ nests (about 1km).

The Tan, Sherbrooke
Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke

There are several options for parking at the Ferny Creek Reserve (access from Clarkmont Rd), at The Piggery Cafe, or across the road from Alfred Nichols Gardens. This 2 to 3 km long trail follows along Sherbrooke Rd with views of the forest. It is quite flat and wide, and good for prams and wheelchairs, and dogs on leads. There is an option for a moderate hill-climb path from The Piggery Cafe that leads up the hill instead of along the road to the rear of Ferny Creek Reserve. There are options of visiting the beautifuyl Alfred Nichols and George Tindal Gardens as well as The Piggery Cafe.

Baluk Willam Nature Conservation Reserve
Corner of Courtney’s Road and Orchid Rd and Corner of Courtney’s Road ad Denham Rd, Belgrave South

This is a lovely quiet bushland park where you can spot a huge variety of tiny orchid flowers. Park at the Orchid Rd intersection car park for about 1km relatively flat walk with information about local orchids. Either walk back along the roadside path (a rugged uneven path with some slopes and puddles) or park at the corner of Denham Rd to enter another section of this reserve. Take the path into this reserve near the corner and stick to your left for an about 3km bushland path walk with some mild sloping sections.

Hamer Arboretum
10 Chalet Rd, Olinda

This spot has a great view from the car park. From there you will encounter some well-made gravel paths with hills. For a short walk of about 1km, you can head down the hill near the entrance to the car park and just until you see the beautiful pond on your left. It is also fun to wonder on the grassy hillside among the giant Christmas tree-like conifers that you can see from the car park, just stick to the places where the grass has been cut during warm weather to be able to steer clear of snakes.

(There is also an off-leash dog area with views at the old Olinda Public Golf Course nearby.)

One Tree Hill Picnic Ground
Lord Somers Rd, Tremont

Walk for a few hundred meters around the parkland grounds on relatively flat paths amongst tall trees and see Anzac memorials and monuments. Toilets and picnic facilities available. There are many trails with hills leading from this area. (It is near the top of the 1000 steps trail.) To walk a bit further on a gently sloping flat path, head down Ramu track as far as you are comfortable. You will find this track from the junction of Lord Somers Rd and One tree hill Rd, near the entrance to the picnic ground.

Just for you, enjoy mindfulness in nature…..

Be in the moment. Just notice yourself and your surroundings using your five senses. What is one thing you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch right now?

Notice your breath and allow it to settle into a regular rhythm with the pace of your steps. This rhythm might change with the demands of the trail or what is on your mind. Allow your breath to slow your pace with uphill inclines, or speed up your pace if you want more physical activation. Find a just-right pace for you.

Notice your thoughts. If you have thoughts about not being good enough, see if you can leave them by the side of the trail. Cultivate kindness towards yourself by congratulating yourself for choosing to be where you are right now and thank your body for taking you on this journey.

Be curious to see what comes up in your experience. What is happening in nature around you? Your attention may be divided between noticing the path and what is around you; plants, wildlife, the sky. What comes to your mind? Would you like to contemplate what is on your mind, or return your attention to your surroundings?