From: DVA Mailing List
Sent: Fri 25/11/2011 11:21 AM

VETERAN MENTAL HEALTH REPORT RELEASED

The Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Warren Snowdon, today released an independent report which reviewed an element of mental health programs and services available to the veteran community.

“The mental health and wellbeing of our returned servicemen and women is a priority, and this review is one way we can ensure that current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) members, and their families, are receiving the best support available now and into the future.

“The Australian Government is investing $93 million over four years in a Mental Health Reform Program across both Defence and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), to ensure appropriate support is available to those who need it most.

“Current and former members of the ADF have access to a broad range of mental health support and services through public and private hospitals, consultant psychiatrists, counselling through the VVCS – Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service, community psychology services and PTSD group programs,” he said.

The key findings of the Review of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Mental Health Group Treatment Programs, identified the effectiveness of PTSD group treatment programs.

Mr Snowdon said that PTSD programs had been successful and achieved strong outcomes that are comparable with, if not exceed, outcomes achieved internationally.

The report looked at satisfaction data from 2008–09 on surveys from veterans who had participated in the programs which showed that more than 97 per cent were satisfied or very satisfied with the programs.

The report also highlighted the success of the PTSD Group treatment programs funded by DVA.

Across all measures from entry to nine months follow-up, the group treatment programs resulted in statistically significant changes for participants on the overall reduction of PTSD symptoms, improvement in perceived quality of life, improvement in family relationships, reductions in anger and reductions in symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The report delivers on a 2009 recommendation made by Professor David Dunt as part of the Independent Study into Suicide in the Ex-Service Community.

“This review, along with other recent studies such as the Australian Defence Force Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study released last month, adds to the wider mental health picture,” Mr Snowdon said.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing study has provided foundations for the development of the 2011 Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, which is an integral part of the Mental Health Reform program initiated by the Dunt review.

The strategy is specifically aimed at providing a solid foundation for good health and wellbeing within the ADF, and to ensure services targeting mental health care are promoted and available.

The strategy addresses seven immediate priority areas and will provide a blueprint for the 2012–2015 Mental Health Action Plan to be developed in consultation with the single services and key stakeholders.

Mr Snowdon said the independent review was conducted by the Centre for Military and Veterans Health with the support of DVA.

“The review made recommendations which are currently being considered.

“The Australian Government is committed to ensuring appropriate, accessible, efficient, accountable and evidence-based mental health care for the veteran and ex-service community,” he said.

A copy of the report is available on the DVA website – http://www.dva.gov.au/health_and_wellbeing/research/Pages/PTSDGroupTreatmentReport.aspx


Media inquiries:
Alice Plate 0400 045 999 or 02 6277 7820
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203