Facts about vaping

  • The tobacco industry is poorly regulated, so there is no quality control with what goes into vapes.
  • Vapes contain chemicals including formaldehyde – a carcinogen linked to increased cancer risk.
  • The flavourings in vapes are approved for ingestion BUT not for inhaling.
  • Studies show nicotine-free vapes do in fact contain nicotine from tobacco.
  • Vapes contain nicotine salts, delivering a higher and more easily absorbable form of nicotine than cigarette smoking. This increases nicotine addictiveness

How vaping affects teens

  • Short and long-term respiratory problems.
  • The CDC has reported numerous deaths and hospitalisations from EVALI (e cigarette or vaping use associated lung injury) due to the additive vitamin E acetate in vapes.
  • Negatively impacts the developing brain of teens.

Long-term effects of vaping

  • Obstructed and inflamed airways
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Emphysema
  • Hypertension
  • Increased aortic stiffness
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • A new law is now in force where all vaping products require a prescription. As a result, teen vaping will likely go underground and become more expensive.

What makes vaping so enticing and addictive?

Nicotine causes the release of the following brain chemicals called
neurotransmitters which have positive effects on the brain and body:



Activates the reward centre of your brain which is how habits and addictions are formed.



Increases cognition and



Causes you to make your own morphine so decreases tension and anxiety.



Suppresses appetite and increases positive mood.

A drug gateway

Nicotine is the most addictive drug to humans and is considered a gateway drug to teens using other substances.

Passive Nicotine

Vaping causes 80% of nicotine to go out into the air so if you’re sharing the air with someone vaping you’re inhaling that nicotine which can cause inflammation of the airways.

Nicotine and the brain

Nicotine exposure can lead to poor academic performance, behavioural disruptions including ADHD and aggression and higher risk of suicidal ideation and completion.

Information Sources

  • Cooper, S. Y., & Henderson, B. J. (2020). The impact of electronic nicotine delivery system (ENDS) flavors on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and nicotine addiction related behaviors. Molecules, 25(18), 4223.
  • Dugas, E. N., Sylvestre, M. P., & O’Loughlin, J. (2020). Type of e-liquid vaped, poly-nicotine use and nicotine dependence symptoms in young adult e-cigarette users: a descriptive study. BMC Public Health, 20(1), 1-8.
  • Hamidullah, S., Thorpe, H. H., Frie, J. A., Mccurdy, R. D., & Khokhar, J. Y. (2020). Adolescent substance use and the brain: Behavioral, cognitive and neuroimaging correlates. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 14, 298.
  • Hema, R. S., & Aisha, A. S. (2021). Electronic cigarettes-The Unvarnished Truth. TMR Integrative Nursing, 5(1), 30-33.
  • Ketonen, V., & Malik, A. (2020). Characterizing vaping posts on Instagram by using unsupervised machine learning. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 141, 104223.
  • King, B. A., Jones, C. M., Baldwin, G. T., & Briss, P. A. (2020). The EVALI and youth vaping epidemics—implications for public health. New England Journal of Medicine, 382(8), 689-691.
  • Salloum, R. G., Tan, A. S., & Thompson, L. (2021). What Parents Need to Know About Teen Vaping and What They Can Do About It. JAMA pediatrics.
  • Simpson, K. A., Kechter, A., Schiff, S. J., Braymiller, J. L., Yamaguchi, N., Ceasar, R. C., … & Barrington-Trimis, J. L. (2021). Characterizing symptoms of e-cigarette dependence: a qualitative study of young adults. BMC public health, 21(1), 1-9.
  • Soule, E. K., Lee, J. G., Egan, K. L., Bode, K. M., Desrosiers, A. C., Guy, M. C., … & Fagan, P. (2020). “I cannot live without my vape”: Electronic cigarette user-identified indicators of vaping dependence. Drug and alcohol dependence, 209, 107886.
  • Thayer, R. E., Hansen, N. S., Prashad, S., Karoly, H. C., Filbey, F. M., Bryan, A. D., & Ewing, S. W. F. (2020). Recent tobacco use has widespread associations with adolescent white matter microstructure. Addictive behaviors, 101, 106152.
  • Tsai, M., Byun, M. K., Shin, J., & Crotty Alexander, L. E. (2020). Effects of e‐cigarettes and vaping devices on cardiac and pulmonary physiology. The Journal of Physiology, 598(22), 5039-5062.
  • Werner, A. K., Koumans, E. H., Chatham-Stephens, K., Salvatore, P. P., Armatas, C., Byers, P., … & Reagan-Steiner, S. (2020). Hospitalizations and deaths associated with EVALI. New England Journal of Medicine, 382(17), 1589-1598.
  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=I02WbuLiivw

Getting connected and finding support

We’re in a strange time at the moment. With a global pandemic and certain restrictions and even lockdowns at times, all meant to keep us safe, it can feel really hard to stay and feel connected.

Humans are wired to be social and we need connection to thrive.

We know the importance of staying connected because research shows that humans are wired to be social and we need connection to thrive. Being isolated may negatively impact our physical, emotional and mental health. So, although we may at times need to be mindful how we physically interact with each other to keep safe, it is also important that we stay connected. Thankfully there are many ways we can do this.

  • Technology is a big plus that means we are able to call, text, video chat and get in touch with our loved ones. Scheduling regular connections with these people that have a positive effect on us is important in high stress times.
  • Connecting and checking in with people who may be experiencing life in similar ways to ourselves can be really helpful, especially if we are experiencing physical or mental health challenges. This might look like engaging in regulated forums and social media groups that can act as an extra support and encourage you right where you are at with your mental health. Some examples may be The Mighty online community and the Kids Helpline website that have chat options for those struggling. Resource pages such as Beyond Blue and Headspace can also help provide information and further tips that are specific to your experience.

Support networks and helpful links

Now that we have a few ways up our sleeve to connect, we also want to give some information that shows some places you can go to for support. We recognise that in life there will likely be moments that are harder than others, and that especially right now life is a bit abnormal and can be really difficult to cope with, one of the best things we can do is find ongoing support for ourselves.

Our mental health can be hard and almost impossible when we try to manage it on our own. Thankfully, there are lots of great support people and networks out there that can help remind us that we are not alone and that there is hope available for all of us. So we’ve listed some amazing supports that can meet you where you are at.

Urgent Counselling Support

Lifeline – Call 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au

Counselling Support

YFC Care Counselling (NSW) – Contact us

Kids Helpline – Call 1800 55 1800 or visit kidshelpline.com.au for online counselling support

Beyond Blue – Call 1300 224 636

Mental Health Information

Kids Helplinekidshelpline.com.au

Beyond Bluebeyondblue.org.au

Reach Outau.reachout.com


Mental Health on Social Media

Instagram @kidshelplineau

Instagram @themindgeek

Instagram @heyamberrae

App – Smiling mind (mindfulness meditations)

App – Check In – Beyond Blue

Our mental health can be hard and almost impossible when we try to manage it on our own. Thankfully, there are lots of great support people and networks out there that can help…

Information sources



Social media and how it may affect how we see ourselves

For a lot of people social media is a big part of their day-to-day routine. Out of habit we check our feeds first thing in the morning, throughout the day and often before heading off to sleep. We watch how other people, whether they be influencers or those we know, live their lives.

There are many positive things about social media, we find communities that we click with, we get some seriously good life hacks we never would have thought of ourselves. With how much time we dedicate to social media is also really important that we’re aware of how it affects how we view ourselves.

Being mindful of the people and accounts that we follow and look at on our media and social media platforms can make a big difference to our overall mental health and thought life.

With so many “perfect” accounts, it can be easy to get caught up in a mindset that tells us we’re not enough or don’t measure up to those that we follow.

Being mindful of the people and accounts that we follow and look at on our media and social media platforms can make a big difference to our overall mental health and thought life. This is especially important when we remember that filters are used, that we only see the highlights of people’s lives and not the moment-to-moment experiences. It can be really hard to remember this and so it may be worth thinking about a social media detox and/or revamp to help make social media a healthier space to be in for you personally.

Here are some ideas for a creating a healthier online space:

  • Unfollowing any accounts or people that don’t offer information that is helpful/necessary to you right now and instead;
  • Watching or following media/social media accounts that promote healthy self-image, a balanced life view that resonates with you and also adds to your sense of physical and emotional safety.
  • Creating a limit for the time you spend engaging with media and social media. Eg. Only checking your Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok at a set time each day for a set amount of time, 4.30pm for an hour, for example (even setting an alarm to start/finish so you don’t get stuck on there).
  • Creating a new habit of not checking any of your social media until at least an hour after waking up so that what you see online does not set the tone for your day.

Information sources



Self-compassion and being your own cheerleader

Self-compassion is just what it sounds like, being compassionate (meaning kind and understanding) to ourselves. In a world that can feel pretty hard day to day, and with all that’s happening in our lives, being kind to ourselves can have a huge impact. In fact, research shows that when a person is self-compassionate, they are likely to experience fewer mental health symptoms associated with depression, anxiety and overall stress.

When a person is self-compassionate, they are likely to experience fewer mental health symptoms associated with depression, anxiety and overall stress.

We’ve found a few ways that you can show yourself compassion.

Become your own cheer squad

The critical voice that often chimes in to tell us that when we are not doing enough, or doing things right, is coming from a place of fear and wants to protect us. We can change this script that says we are not doing things right and instead encourage ourselves for trying our best. Maybe instead of saying, “You’re not getting enough done while in isolation”, try swapping/reframing this for, “maybe today it’s ok to have some quieter moments where I just get the basics done”.

Schedule some time for self-care and to invest in you

This may look like watching, listening or reading something that feels good, makes you laugh and can help you relax.

Practice some mindfulness

This is where we slow down and observe our own thoughts, actions and the things around us without judgement and without trying to get rid of them. Instead we notice and observe them and also may include intentional breathing while we accept those things we are noticing with compassion.

Information sources


Sleep – Why we need it and some helpful tips

This might sound fairly obvious but it never hurts to be reminded that sleep is so important. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.

When life feels fairly hectic and stress levels are high, our sleep can be one of the first things to be affected. Studies show that insomnia and other challenges with sleep can increase our chances of both physical and mental ill health, and if we are already experiencing mental health challenges there is an increased risk that the symptoms we’re experience may intensify.

To give a little more detail an article by the Sleep Foundation explains some of the things that might be affected by a lack of sleep. Some of these things are:

  • Our emotional health, and if we’re not adults yet also our emotional development. They say, “mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder have routinely been linked to poor sleep”.
  • Our physical health. Sleep gives our body a chance to rest and reset. Dr Gellner, a paediatrician, talked in an interview about how a lack of sleep can affect our immune system and if we’re not getting enough sleep the cells that help us fight infection are decreased, meaning we don’t have the protection against sickness that we need to stay well.

This makes getting a proper night’s sleep really important and there are some things we can do to help this, as recommended by the Sleep Health Foundation.

  • Making time to unwind an hour or so before going to sleep to help the body and mind relax. This may look like watching, reading or listening to things that are calming and help put us at ease.
  • Having scheduled sleep and wake-up times. This helps to train our internal body clock to be ready for sleep at more consistent times.
  • Keeping your sleeping space just for sleeping. It’s tempting to use our bed for anything and everything (eating, daytime relaxing, watching tv) but by only using our bed for sleep it helps to train our body and mind that when we are in bed that means it’s time to rest.

Information Sources





Resilience is bouncing back from suffering just like how a slinky comes back into shape after it has been stretched. Suffering can range from painful life situations, mistakes, failures and a sense of worthlessness.

When suffering hits you can choose to either be self-critical OR self-compassionate
in response. Self compassion expert Kristen Neff believes the 3 components of
self compassion are key to being resilient.

A great way to remember these 3 components is to view each one as a different part of a donut…

The donut illustration

The Donut Base

Every donut base is the same.

Remind yourself that EVERYONE suffers.

The truth that “It’s not just me that’s suffering“ should make us feel connected rather then alone in our suffering.

Donut Hole

Our brains naturally criticise us for what we don’t have. Eg. ”You’re not _____ enough!”

Do-nut focus on what you do-nut have. Focus on what strengths you do have. Eg. “I’m a caring friend, I’m responsible etc.”

Donut Decorations

The good bits!

Noticing and enjoying this part of the donut = joy and satisfaction.

Look for and enjoy the good bits in your day instead of getting caught up in the not so good bits.

Conflict Resolution

Conflict is a normal part of any relationship as our needs and preferences can often clash with the needs and preferences of someone else. The crucial factor when conflict arises is how we go about resolving it. When resolved well we can grow and understand ourselves and others better. Yet if conflict isn’t resolved well, this can lead to bitterness and distance in our relationships.

Two key factors to resolving conflict well are:

1. Understanding what caused the conflict

Our anger towards someone is just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath are one or more emotions like feeling hurt, rejected, jealous and threatened. It’s helpful to identify what lies beneath so that we can communicate to the other person the reason we’re angry and how their behaviour has made us feel. It is important to avoid communicating our feelings as “you made me feel…” as this blaming response can cause them to become defensive, a barrier in resolving the issue. Instead say “I feel …”

Understanding what lies beneath the anger helps us to respond in healthy ways.

2. Kind Communication

Four unhealthy responses

John Gottman, a relationship researcher and expert, found there are four ways of unhealthily responding to conflict:

Criticism – Attacking someone for who they are i.e their character e.g. “You’re annoying”

Contempt – Communicating to someone that they are worthless through mocking, mimicking and disrespect e.g. rolling your eyes when someone is speaking or talking over the top of them.

Defensiveness – Failing to take responsibility for our part in the conflict e.g. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I haven’t done anything wrong!”

Stonewalling – Shutting down and refusing to engage in resolving the conflict e.g. ignoring, turning or walking away from someone.

The antidotes

To counteract these 4 conflict escalators Gottman encourages the following 4 antidotes:

Criticism Antidote – Communicate your feelings and needs instead of criticising.

Contempt Antidote – Think of the things you appreciate about the other person.

Defensiveness Antidote – Accept the other person’s view of the fight and apologise for your part in it.

Stonewalling Antidote – Take a time out and pick a distraction and/or self soothing activity.



Gottman, J. M. (2008). Gottman method couple therapy. Clinical handbook of couple therapy, 4(8), 138-164.


Confidence is a certainty of your abilities and an acceptance of your imperfect self. Comparing ourselves to others often decreases our confidence as we negatively judge ourselves and feel insecure as a result.

Our confidence is often tied to how much we value and accept ourselves. When we feel worthy we take risks and put ourselves into the world. Confidence is contagious so we can spread confidence to one another.

Focus on the positive

Whether it be a criticism someone has of us or negative beliefs our inner critic tells us, psychologist Rick Hanson states our brains stick to negative things about ourselves like velcro. Yet the compliments from others or good aspects we see in ourselves slip from our mind like an egg in a frypan.

Figure 1. Negative things stick in our minds while the good slips away. But we can choose to fight against this and train our minds to focus on our positives and strengths.

Our brains stick to negative things about ourselves like velcro.

– Rick Hanson, Psychologist

We can choose to let our mind focus on the negatives or fight against this and focus on the positives like our strengths. The more we focus on the positives, the quicker and easier our brains get at pondering the positives versus the negatives during hard times.

Find your strengths

Go to https://high5test.com and answer 100 questions to find your top 5 strengths.

Power pose

Our posture can greatly influence how confident we feel. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy says that standing in a power pose for 2 minutes can increase our sense of confidence.

Figure 2. Our posture can influence how confident we feel.

Watch Amy Cuddy’s 20 minute TED talk on confident body language below.


Hanson, R. (2018). Resilient: 12 tools for transforming everyday experiences into lasting happiness. Random House.

Carney, D. R., Cuddy, A. J., & Yap, A. J. (2010). Power posing: Brief nonverbal displays affect neuroendocrine levels and risk tolerance. Psychological science, 21(10), 1363-1368