Look out for your mates - Support available for veteran mental health

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TOMORROW is PTSD Awareness Day and Australians are urged to look out for their mates who may be experiencing poor mental health and encourage them to seek support and treatment as early as possible.

Minister for Veterans' Affairs Darren Chester said while service in the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is an overwhelmingly positive experience for most, the unique nature of military service can have an impact on the mental health of our current and former ADF personnel and their families.

"For those veterans and their families who may be experiencing poor mental health, I want you to know help is available," Mr Chester said.

"All current and former ADF personnel and their families have access to free and confidential counselling and support through Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling. This life-saving support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1800 011 046.

"There are also valuable tools, apps and information on the Open Arms website for people seeking support for themselves and others, including help on how to start a conversation with someone you may be worried about."

Open Arms was founded by our Vietnam veterans and it is their enduring legacy to ensure all Australian veterans and their families have access to free mental health support.

In addition, current ADF members and their families can contact the Defence All-hours support line, a confidential service that is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by calling 1800 628 036.

Through the Department of Veterans' Affairs (DVA), veterans can access free mental health care for any mental health condition. This is available for life and doesn't need to be linked to military service and can be accessed by calling DVA on 1800 555 254.

"By connecting people with these services to start with, it can open the path to recovery," Mr Chester said.

"If you are an ADF member, veteran, or a family member experiencing mental health challenges, there is support available to you. If you are a friend of one of these groups and have concerns, start a conversation and get your mates some help.

"Mental health is everyone's business and together we can all make a difference and help someone get the support they require."

Through DVA, veterans with PTSD can apply for Psychiatric Assistance Dogs to assist them in managing their PTSD, reduce isolation and give the veteran a chance to improve their mental health and wellbeing. This program has received positive feedback from veterans and further information can be found at www.dva.gov.au/dogs.

Defence and DVA in partnership with Phoenix Australia are also conducting a PTSD treatment trial, the Rapid Exposure Supporting Trauma Recovery (RESTORE) trial. The RESTORE trial is still recruiting volunteers for tele-health and face-to-face delivery. Further information can be found at www.phoenixaustralia.org/expertise/research/current-treatment-trials/restore/.

Open Arms — Veterans & Families Counselling provides free and confidential support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families. Help is available 24/7 on 1800 011 046 or visit www.OpenArms.gov.au.

 
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