Today (10 October 2012), the Australian Defence Force will mark its inaugural Mental Health Day.
Minister for Defence Science and Personnel Warren Snowdon said early identification of those at risk of developing mental health issues is an important pathway to better health.
“Reducing stigma associated with ADF members seeking support for mental health issues will also encourage personnel to reach out when they need help," Mr Snowdon said.
The ADF Mental Health Day aims to raise awareness by encouraging discussion about the whole spectrum of mental health issues. ADF units and teams across Australia and overseas will conduct local activities to reflect on mental health.
“The unique demands of working in the ADF can have an impact on the mental health of servicemen and women, but it can affect their families as well,” Mr Snowdon said.
“I understand there is still reluctance amongst some personnel and their families to seek help for mental health conditions. This often stems from a fear it may affect an ADF career, which isn’t the case at all.
“Defence is working at breaking down barriers and encouraging a culture that supports people to better recognise mental health injuries and take action as early as possible to help themselves and their mates,” he said.
Defence already has in place a comprehensive mental health support program which includes prevention, intervention and treatment. In recent years Defence has increased its mental health workforce and continues to introduce reforms and new programs to provide a broader range of care.
Defence families also have access to a variety of support and counselling services, which can be accessed with or without their ADF family member.
“Support services are in place and I encourage all Defence members who feel they need a helping hand to reach out for assistance and use these programs,” Mr Snowdon said.
It is important to recognise that mental health issues can come from many sources. Experiences throughout life can contribute to mental health issues and these can develop slowly over time.
Service on deployment does not necessarily put individuals at risk of a mental health condition. Defence research indicates people who have not deployed experience mental health issues at similar rates to those who have deployed.
For further details about Defence Mental Health support programs please visit:
Marcus Butler (Minister Snowdon): 02 6277 7820 or 0417 917 796
Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999
All Hours Support Line - 1800 628 036
(Outside Australia +61 2 9425 3878)
Emergency Hotline for ADF Members and their families.
24 hours a day - 7 days a week.
Vetline - 1800 011 046
Veterans and Veterans Family Counselling Service
Defence Family Helpline - 1800 624 608
Lifeline - 13 11 14