An e-learning package to assist you in your role in supporting veterans who are experiencing mental health difficulties.

 

This information is produced by mental health experts and is designed for those who work in support, welfare, or advocacy roles. This course provides information about practical support and referrals.

 

There are three modules. Each module comprises a video and an activity to help you connect the information to your work.

Module 1 – Veteran mental health and treatments that work

Module 1 video

Module 1 activities

  1. What kinds of mental health problems have you encountered during your work with veterans?
  2. What kinds of mental health problems have you encountered with veterans’ families during the course of your work?
  3. How would you describe the main types of evidence-based treatments for trauma-related mental health problems to veterans and their families?

Module 2 – Military culture, transition and help seeking

Module 2 video

Module 2 activities

  1. What are some of the positives veterans have reported to you about military life?
  2. Write down some sentences about how military values might impact help seeking for mental health problems.
  3. What have been some transition issues for the veterans you have worked with?

Module 3 – Supporting veteran and families’ mental health

Module 3 video

Module 3 activities

  1. Write down some parts of your practice that emphasize parts of the model of supporting veteran mental health.

Expert contributors

Meet the team. Our experts are all highly qualified and experienced academics and researchers working at Phoenix Australia.

Dr Carolyn Deans

Senior Clinical Specialist

Carolyn Deans is a Clinical Psychologist. For the Practitioner Support Service, she provides consultation to practitioners about a range of veteran mental health issues.

Carolyn has a background in mental health interventions and training. She spent 13 years as an Army psychology officer, focussing on military mental health, including trauma and resilience training, mental health support, and critical incident interventions. Her experience includes leading critical incident support teams. Carolyn has worked as a university lecturer, teaching in undergraduate and postgraduate psychology programs, supervising psychologists, and managing a student psychology clinic. Her clinical and research projects have included a focus on perinatal mental health, attachment and trauma, and resilience. She has published in the field of men’s and veterans’ mental health, and has presented at national and international conferences. Carolyn continues to serve as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army Reserve.

Geraldine McKay

Senior Social Worker

Geraldine is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker and an experienced trainer, clinical supervisor and individual, couple and family therapist. She has provided clinical services to people in high risk organisations including personnel affected by exposure to trauma and workplace stress. Prior to joining Phoenix Australia, Geraldine worked in the Department of Defence, Australia Customs, Department of Immigration and Border Protection and Home Affairs, undertaking a range of roles in support of personnel and their families. In her work with Defence members and families, she provided relationship and family counselling, group programs and education briefs. Geraldine has developed and delivered education and training programs in both government and non-government agencies. Geraldine also works in private practice and is an educator for the Australian College of Applied Psychology in Bachelor and Master of Social Work (Qualifying) degrees.

Dr Phil Parker

General Practitioner

Phil Parker is a general practitioner. For the Practitioner Support Service, he provides consultation to practitioners about a wide range of veterans’ health care issues.

Phil is a Brisbane-based GP with extensive expertise in veteran health. He served with the Australian Army for 28 years, which included roles in Signals, Infantry, and Medical Corps. In 2012 he deployed to Afghanistan as the Task Force Surgeon. This role involved operational coordination of coalition health forces in Uruzgan, mentoring of senior Afghan Army, Police, and civilian health staff, and treatment of trauma patients. Phil has also held senior medical officer roles within Army, with significant involvement in capability and policy development. As a community general practitioner Phil has a special interest in veteran health. He is also actively involved in providing advice and education to other practitioners about PTSD management. Phil is GP Ambassador for Gallipoli Medical Research Foundation, and also serves as a medical educator with General Practice Training Queensland.

Dr David Pedder

Clinical Psychologist

David Pedder is a Clinical Psychologist and Manager of the Practitioner Support Service. He is responsible for responding to queries from practitioners, as well as the day-to-day management of the Practitioner Support Service.

David has experience working with young people and adult populations in the public and private sectors, including the development and facilitation of group therapy programs. He held a previous position with Victoria Police where he was the project lead on initiatives intended to improve the mental health of employees. David’s doctoral studies examined emotion regulation capacity in young and older adults. He has research experience with literature reviews, scale development, evaluation of clinical interventions, and he has published his work across a number of international journals.

Dr John Cooper

Consultant Psychiatrist/p>

John Cooper is a Psychiatrist. For the Practitioner Support Service, he provides consultation to practitioners regarding specialist psychiatry and pharmacotherapy issues.

At Phoenix Australia, John provides psychiatry expertise across policy and service development, training and education, and research. He has particular expertise in veteran mental health, assessment, pharmacotherapy, and service development. John maintains an active private practice, where he specialises in the assessment and treatment of posttraumatic mental health problems, and he also works in a regional youth mental health service working with young people who have experienced trauma. John has held senior clinical and advisory positions in posttraumatic mental health at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital and the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS).

Jane Nursey

Director, Practitioner Support Service

Jane Nursey is the Director of the Practitioner Support Service, and a Clinical Neuropsychologist. She provides consultation to practitioners about a range of veteran mental health and specialist neuropsychology issues. She also provides general oversight of the service.

Jane has 25 years’ experience in the field of trauma related mental health as a senior clinician, program leader, clinical supervisor, trainer, policy advisor, and researcher working with veteran, military and high risk industry personnel, as well as children and adolescents and communities impacted by disaster . Jane has also worked in the alcohol and drug, traumatic brain injury, older aged psychiatry, child and adolescent mental health, and developmental disability sectors. Jane’s training in Clinical Neuropsychology and Developmental Psychology fuel her research interests in exploring the neurobiological and neuropsychological aspects of trauma and exploring innovative treatments that help to improve the clinical and cognitive symptoms of PTSD and other trauma related mental health disorders. At Phoenix Australia, Jane has led a range of service development, training and research projects that focus on translating evidence into practice and enhancing the capacity of mental health practitioners to deliver evidence-based treatments.

Kristi Heffernan

Senior Clinical Specialist

Kristi Heffernan is a Clinical Psychologist and Senior Clinical Specialist at Phoenix Australia. Kristi provides expert consultation to the Practitioner Support Service and can sit on multidisciplinary case consultation panels to address complex clinical queries.

Kristi has 15 years’ experience as a clinical psychologist working with the Australian Defence Force in both a uniform and civilian capacity. She continues to serve as a LTCOL in the Army reserve and is a veteran of operations in the Middle East and East Timor. Kristi has provided prevention and early intervention strategies for traumatic stress and is also experienced in providing trauma-focussed interventions. She recently completed research investigating the cognitive mechanisms associated with adjustment from military deployments, and she is committed to supporting organisations, individuals and their families to manage workplace stress and reduce the mental health impacts of trauma.

Useful resources

Additional resources relevant to supporting veterans with mental health issues are provided below.

Information sheets

Websites

  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) –  Charged with the responsibility of delivering government programs for war veterans, members of the Australian Defence Force, members of the Australian Federal Police and their dependents. 1800 555 254 (8am to 5pm, Mon to Fri). See also:
    • At Ease – Health and wellbeing information and services for veterans
    • Open Arms – Confidential counselling for veterans and their families (1800 011 046).
  • Heads Up – Heads Up is an initiative by the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance and Beyond Blue that aims to give individuals and businesses the tools to create mentally healthy workplaces. The Heads Up website is a one-stop shop offering practical advice, information and resources to take action and covers all areas of workplace mental health. Heads Up has a wide range of resources including fact sheets, brochures and wallet cards. These are free to order or download and can be delivered Australia-wide.
  • Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health – Phoenix Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that promotes recovery for the 15 million Australians affected by trauma. Phoenix provides a number of fact sheets and videos about trauma and works with high-risk organisations to implement initiatives that promote mental health. (03) 9035 5599 (9am to 5pm, Mon to Fri)
  • The Black Dog Institute – The Black Dog Institute focusses on the development and dissemination of the knowledge needed to understand, prevent and treat the significant mental health challenges facing the world. Black Dog has a specific research program focussing on emergency services.
  • Safe Work Australia – A statutory body to develop national policy related to Work Health and Safety and workers’ compensation.
  • Veterans Centre Sydney Northern Beaches – An ESO located at the Dee Why RSL Club, Sydney, who provide an independent point of contact for current and former military personnel and their families seeking assistance. Wellbeing support is provided using an intake process and services are tailored to the person’s needs.
  • Volunteering Australia – Volunteering Australia is the national peak body for volunteering, working to advance volunteering in the Australian community.

 

Useful resources – For volunteers

  • Beyond Blue – Access free, confidential support from a trained mental health professional. Beyond Blue’s Support Service is available by phone (1300 22 4636 – 24 hours/7 days a week), web chat (3pm-12am AEST/7 days a week) or email (response within 24 hours).
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) – Charged with the responsibility of delivering government programs for war veterans, members of the Australian Defence Force, members of the Australian Federal Police and their dependents. 1800 555 254 (8am to 5pm, Mon to Fri).
  • Lifeline – Lifeline provides 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services. 13 11 14.
  • Open Arms – Support for current and ex-serving ADF personnel and their families offering free and confidential counselling and group treatment programs to support mental health and wellbeing. 1800 011 046.
  • Mensline Australia – A free, nationwide, 24-hour professional telephone and online support and information service for men in Australia. 1300 78 99 78
  • Parent Line NSW – Weekdays 9am to 9pm and weekends 4pm to 9pm. Offers free professional parenting advice and support. List of interstate parent lines available on their website. 1300 1300 52.
  • SANE Australia – SANE Australia provides a helpline by telephone or online chat to speak with a mental health professional, weekdays 9am-5pm AEST. Online forums with information, advice and support are also available. 1800 18 SANE (7263).
  • Suicide Call Back Service – A free, nationwide 24-hour professional telephone and online counselling service for anyone affected by suicide. 1300 659 467.

References

  •  Video of veteran and GP meeting was developed in collaboration with RACGP for the DVA GP Online Program.
  • Oster, C., Morello, A., Venning, A., Redpath, P., & Lawn, S. (2017). The health and wellbeing needs of veterans: a rapid review. BMC psychiatry, 17(1), 414.
  • Van Hooff M, Forbes D, Lawrence-Wood E, Hodson S, Sadler N, Benassi H, Hansen C, Grace B, Avery J, Searle A, Iannos M, Abraham M, Baur J, Varker T, O’Donnell M, Phelps A, Frederickson J, Sharp M, McFarlane A, 2018, Mental Health Prevalence and Pathways to Care Summary Report, Mental Health and Wellbeing Transition Study, the Department of Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Canberra.
  • Kidson, M. A., Douglas, J. C., & Holwill, J. (1993). Post‐traumatic stress disorder in Australian World War II veterans attending a psychiatric outpatient clinic. Medical journal of Australia, 158(9), 563-566.
  • Sim, M., Ikin, J., & McKenzie, D. (2005). Health study 2005: Australian veterans of the Korean War. Monash University, Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.
  • O’Toole, B., Pierse, K., Friedrich, B., Outram, S., Dadds, M., & Catts, S. (2019). Combat, posttraumatic stress disorder and health of australian vietnam veteran conscripts and volunteers in the three decades after return. Journal of Military and Veterans Health, 27(1), 42.
  • Runge C, Kanesarajah J, Loos C, Waller M & Nasveld P (2014). Rwanda Deployment Health Study Report. The University of Queensland, Centre for Australian Military and Veterans’ Health, Brisbane.
  • Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine at Monash University, Health Services Australia of the University of Western Australia and The Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health at the University of Melbourne (2003, 2015). Australian Gulf War Veterans’ Health Study. 
  • Hawthorne, G., Korn, S., & Creamer, M. (2014). Australian peacekeepers: Long-term mental health status, health service use and quality of life-summary report: Department of Psychiatry. University of Melbourne, Australia.
  • Department of Veteran Affairs (2019). Treatment Population Statistics: Quarterly Report – June 2019. Department of Veterans Affairs, Transport, research and development, Statistical services & nominal rolls, Canberra.
  • Waller, M., Treloar, S. A., Sim, M. R., McFarlane, A. C., McGuire, A. C., Bleier, J., & Dobson, A. J. (2012). Traumatic events, other operational stressors and physical and mental health reported by Australian Defence Force personnel following peacekeeping and war-like deployments. BMC psychiatry, 12(1), 88.