Anzac Day provides us with an opportunity to reflect upon all Veterans and pay our respects to the sacrifices that millions around the world have made to stand up for a world they believe in. Around the world, there are people who, whilst no longer serving in the armed forces, still carry the physical and psychological scars of their experience.

Psychological scars and mental health challenges often have the most impact, as they are unseen, unheard, unknown, often with a stigma attached. When untreated or ignored, mental health presentations can severely impact a person both physically and emotionally. Furthermore, they can have devastating effects on families and on many occasions, results in isolation and a sense of hopelessness, which negatively impacts their support networks and employment.

The 2015 Mental Health and Wellbeing Transition Study measured the prevalence of mental health disorders among ADF personnel who discharged between 2010 and 2014 (Van Hooff et al. 2018).

Interestingly, males who served in the ADF, compared to males who have not served, were:

  • Significantly more likely (1.5 times as likely) to meet the criteria for a diagnosable lifetime mental disorder than men in the general population
  • 1.8 times as likely to experience PTSD
  • 1.7 times as likely to experience depression
  • 1.4 times as likely experience alcohol use disorder

The Better Health Generation, through our Accelerate Health team of mental health professionals, are working hard to address this. At TBHG, we are in the business of helping people, as we know that each person faces their unique battles and that the unique
experience our Veterans face falls within this category. We are therefore honoured to be able to support Veterans and the great work of Open Arms.

Open Arms is a governmental organisation that provides free and confidential counselling to anyone who has served at least one day in the ADF, and their families, across Australia. Open Arms has been an invaluable resource for our team to ensure that our psychologists have the additional knowledge and skills needed to support this respected and valued community.

Government organisations and regulatory bodies now recognise the importance of breaking down the stigma associated with mental health conditions, with the recent introduction of the mentally health workplaces initiative. We all have a role in helping to break down the stigma associated with acceptance and understanding of how mental health conditions affect us all. So next time you meet a Veteran, don’t be afraid to share a yarn, a coffee, or a smile and take the time to thank them for their service. Whilst you may not truly understand what they have experienced, they will appreciate your efforts to try.

If you are a Veteran and you need support or simply someone you can trust and speak to openly, we would encourage you to reach out to Open Arms or jump online to have a look at their services available.

Reference:
A Profile of Australian Veterans: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2018)
https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/1b8bd886-7b49-4b9b-9163-152021a014df/aihw-phe-
235.pdf.aspx?inline=true