So how does the MDAP work?
To help us understand how the panel works, we spoke to panel member Dr Richard Bonwick, a leading psychiatrist with a special interest in treating ageing veterans suffering PTSD and related issues. He says there are many parallels between the defence forces and emergency services in terms of potential experiences, impacts and work culture.
“When people are in an organisation, like the military or in emergency services, they have a structure around them to support them,” says Dr Bonwick.
“There may be some long-term psychological traumas and issues that they’ve struggled with but they cope because they are within a structure, they have support, they have things to do day-to-day and they have their work. Issues are put on the back burner.
“Once people retire or transition out of the military or emergency services, the traumatic incidents they deal with as first responders bubble up to the surface and we see an emergence or re-emergence of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. That impacts them, their function, it might lead to secondary problems with drugs and alcohol and it certainly puts an impact on their relationships with people around them.”
Helping a client manage a complex range of problems that arise from witnessing a series of traumatic events or from workplace bullying and harassment can be challenging, which is where the expertise and resources of the Multidisciplinary Advice Panel are a valuable asset.
“Difficult and complicated problems interact and require a broad-based, multi-disciplinary approach and often require intensive psychiatric care. The panel can advise clinicians and link them to useful resources,” says Dr Bonwick.
“A number of us have worked with first responders, so we understand the culture – very structured with strict protocols and rules – and we can help clinicians better understand the culture and how it can impact presentation, symptoms and therapies.”
Dr Bonwick says emergency workers across services in Victoria are reporting high rates of PTSD and there is a vital need for clinicians and practitioners to support those workers with appropriate treatments.
“Practitioners can use our expertise and discuss issues with peers dealing with the same issues and develop support networks and supervisory mentoring-type arrangements. Essentially, it’s all about supporting clinicians to deliver the best possible outcomes to their clients.”
To find out more, or to contact the panel and request a consult, visit our website or contact us on 1800 324 879 (Monday – Friday, 9 am – 5 pm, excluding holidays).