From: Defence Media
Sent: Fri 10/10/2014 2:32 PM

Australian Defence Force Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, a day dedicated to mental health education, awareness and advocacy. It is also the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Mental Health Day, held each year in recognition of the ADF’s commitment to taking care of its key capability – its people.

Service in the military presents a range of challenges for ADF members during their careers, from initial recruitment through promotions, training, deployment, and the eventual transition to civilian life.

With this in mind, the theme for ADF Mental Health Day 2014 is focused on the importance of building and maintaining social connections, and how this has a positive impact on mental health. This includes promoting connections with family, friends, work colleagues and the community throughout all stages of a military career.

In his video message to Defence personnel announcing ADF Mental Health Day 2014, the Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin, acknowledged the importance of social relationships.

“Good, positive social relationships can help build your resilience and provide important support networks for you and your family during challenging times. We all have a responsibility to ask ‘Are you okay?’ when we see someone who might be doing it tough. But equally, we owe it to our family and friends to accept help when we need it”.

Service in the ADF poses significant pressures on its members and their physical and mental health. With frequent relocations, long separations from friends and family, demanding and sometimes dangerous working conditions, these all place significant demands on ADF members and their families.

“These pressures are recognised by the ADF at the most senior levels and it is why Mental Health Day is an important event in the annual calendar for all ADF personnel to stop and take stock of our most important asset, ourselves,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.

To mark ADF Mental Health Day, Defence is holding a range of activities throughout the month of October on bases across Australia, and on ships and selected deployments to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Last night, Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs delivered the annual Grace Groom Oration at the National Press Club at the request of peak mental health organisation, Mental Health Australia.

He spoke on the complexity of the mental health landscape for the ADF and some of the excellent programs in place to prepare, support and treat the men and women of the ADF.

“The annual ADF Mental Health Day is one of the initiatives to bring discussions on mental health into the main stream and to break down the stigma associated with this important issue,” Vice Admiral Griggs said.

For more information about Defence’s mental health programs and where to get help, visit www.defence.gov.au/health

Media note: Images of the launch can be found at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20143029

Media contact:
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999