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Army March 14, 2013
Keep your mates safe
Early intervention is the key to keeping mental health issues at bay. Michael Weaver looks at the resources to help.
Help at hand: There is a wide range of
information resources to ADF personnel who
may be experiencing suicidal thoughts.
For ADF personnel requiring more mental health
support and treatment, contact the local Defence
Health Facility or call 1800 IMSICK after hours
(1800 467 425).
Mental Health All Hours Support Line (ASL)
(1800 628 036) is a confidential crisis telephone
service for all ADF members and their families and
is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
THE importance of early inter-
vention for those at risk of
suicide or mental health disor-
ders is being stressed under the
ADF's Suicide Prevention Strategy.
The Commander of Joint Health,
RAdm Robyn Walker, said at Senate
Estimates that Defence was aware of the
association between suicide risk and men-
tal health disorders, particularly depres-
sion and post-traumatic stress disorder,
"and for this reason ensures effective
treatment intervention is available to ADF
personnel as early as possible".
"I encourage any ADF personnel
experiencing suicidal thoughts to reach
out to their family, mates, chaplains, com-
manders or health professional and seek
the help and support that is available,"
RAdm Walker said.
The ADF has recently undergone a
review of its Suicide Prevention Strategy.
"Our in-depth evaluation of the ADF's
suicide prevention program indicates that
we have hit the mark and it's reassuring
to know that our programs include all the
key features established by our US and
Canadian allies," said RAdm Walker.
"We have eight regional mental health
teams, including staff to promote men-
tal health care, which has significantly
enhanced our ability to roll out suicide
The ADF rate of suicide is less than
that within the wider Australian commu-
nity when compared by age and gender
A high rate of ADF personnel report
that they have suicidal thoughts, com-
pared to the rest of the Australian com-
munity, but the number of reported
attempts at suicide is similar.
This was discovered by the 2010 ADF
Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing
Study which surveyed 24,500 serving
The study also suggests that the com-
prehensive initiatives provided as part
of the ADF Mental Health Strategy,
such as mental health literacy and the
various aspects of the Suicide Prevention
Program are having a positive impact.
"When an ADF member is identified
as being at risk of suicide, mental health
professionals and specialists provide
responsive psychological and medical
interventions," RAdm Walker said.
Annual suicide prevention awareness
is mandatory for ADF members.
Two-day Applied Suicide Intervention
Skills Training (ASIST) program is avail-
able to upskill key Defence personnel in
Suicide risk assessment training for
mental health professionals was rolled out
To date, 131 mental health profession-
als have attended the training. Of these 61
have been further upskilled to deliver this
RAdm Walker said the important mes-
sage is to keep you and your mates safe.
"All ADF personnel need to step for-
ward to improve their awareness of issues
such as suicide prevention and be willing
to seek help or encourage others to do so
as early as possible."
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