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Last year, Phoenix Australia developed an online training program for GPs, Working with Veterans with Mental Health Problems. On 11 December it was launched at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP).
Developed in collaboration with the RACGP and funded by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the program aims to inform GPs about practical strategies to assist veterans, with a focus on early intervention to promote recovery from mental health problems.
The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator The Hon. Michael Ronaldson, launched the training program, stating that primary care is an important entry point to identify both physical and mental health issues amongst ex-serving ADF personnel. He said, “The mental health and wellbeing of our service personnel is an issue the Government takes very seriously. We are committed to … [ensuring] all generations of service personnel have access to effective treatment when they need it.”
The RACGP President, Dr Frank R Jones said, “GPs are frontline in the effort to curb mental health disorders in Australia’s returned veterans and must be alert to the unique mental, physical and cognitive health issues that often present as a consequence of trauma”. He stated that GPs are in an ideal position to provide veterans with quality care and assist with recovery, but they must understand the unique experiences of veterans – an outcome this training program aims to achieve.
Phoenix Australia’s Associate Professor Darryl Wade, who led the development of the program said, “In this program we give GPs an introduction to the experiences of veterans, from when they are first recruited, through their training and military career, right through to when they are leaving the military. The sorts of experiences they may have, the rewards, but also the demands a military career can place on an individual and family members. We’re confident that if we can get more GPs aware of the experiences of veterans and their families that they’ll be in a much better position to understand and address mental health issues among Australia’s veterans.”