The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) seeks to support the mental health and wellbeing of serving and ex-serving personnel. One of the ways DVA is responding to the needs of serving and ex-serving military personnel, particularly those from contemporary conflicts, is to ensure that the full range of supports are available to them in mediums which they actively use. Phoenix Australia, in collaboration with DVA, the Department of Defence, the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, Wildbear Entertainment, and SMS Management and Technology, took a lead role in the design and development of DVA’s new resilience self-management website, High Res. The website aims to provide information and tools to help military personnel and veterans build emotional resilience and manage stress.
Our partnership with Young and Well enabled us to draw on our collective strengths in delivery of quality, evidence-based mental health resources targeting the needs of serving and ex-serving personnel, and in developing engaging online and e-mental health programs and initiatives in collaboration with intended users.
Our objectives in delivering engaging, high quality and effective clinical content and functionality for the website were three-fold:
- Ensure that the High Res website is based on the best available research and practice in providing online self-help, wellbeing and resilience programs – both in terms of the content as well as the most effective online delivery.
- Ensure a high degree of fit between the High Res website content and existing stress management, wellbeing and resilience materials already available through DVA and Defence.
- Ensure that the High Res website meets the needs of its target audience, and that the user experience encourages the individual to return to the website to derive the greatest benefit.
This project included a number of components: 1) review of existing resilience and wellbeing resources and tools; 2) use of a participatory design process to involve end users in the development of the design and content of the website, ensuring that it will be a website which veterans will use, trust and recommend to others; 3) development of written content; 4) development of audio-visual materials; and 5) user testing.
The High Res website and its companion app provide simple strategies to manage day-to-day stress and build resilience. The user is able to set goals, track their use of the self-help tools, and track their overall progress over time, in much the same way as people might track their physical fitness.
High Res was launched by the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson and Assistant Minister for Defence, the Hon. Stuart Robert MP, on 28 August 2015. Minister Ronaldson said that, “By helping build the resilience of our serving members and veterans, we are assisting to improve performance and build better lives”. The website is available on DVA’s At Ease mental health portal at www.at-ease.dva.gov.au/highres.
High Res is a valuable addition to DVA’s suite of services to support the mental health and wellbeing of the military and veteran community.