Media Release – Improving Primary Care Mental Health Treatment for Veterans

11 Dec 2014

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs 

Thursday, 11 December 2014 VA101

The Abbott Government is strengthening the support available to general practitioners to identify and treat Australia’s veterans with mental health issues with the release today of a new online training program.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson, has launched a unique online training program for GPs that provides an overview of the mental health issues faced by veterans and will assist GPs in more effectively identifying issues early.

Called Working with Veterans with Mental Health Problems, the one hour accredited training module was developed for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) by the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH) and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) and is available to GPs through the RACGP gplearning website.

The new online training program seeks to provide GPs with a better understanding of mental health issues affecting veterans including their military experience and its impact on families, the special assessment and treatment considerations for veterans, and the services and resources currently available for veterans and their families.

Combined with the new Australian Defence Force (ADF) post-discharge GP health assessment, the Government is supporting GPs in identifying any early signs of mental and/or physical health problems among veterans. All former serving ADF personnel, including those who have served in the permanent or reserve forces, can access this once-off comprehensive health assessment from their GP, with a Medicare rebate available.

Further facilitating effective treatment of veterans is the addition of a veteran and ADF indicator on the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) to allow current and former ADF personnel to self-identify.

This will greatly assist health care practitioners to identify patients who may have entitlements to DVA or other Commonwealth funded health services.

RACGP President, Dr Frank R Jones said it is vital for GPs to possess a good understanding of military and veteran experiences to aid in building a positive relationship with a veteran that promotes optimal health outcomes.

“The Working with Veterans with Mental Health Problems activity focuses on practical strategies to assist GPs to effectively engage with veterans and provide early and effective treatment for mental health issues and related problems,” Dr Jones said.

Senator Ronaldson said that primary care was an important entry point to identify both physical and mental health issues amongst ex-serving ADF personnel and the Government was providing general practitioners with the tools to do so effectively.

“The mental health and wellbeing of our service personnel is an issue the Government takes very seriously. We are committed to working closely with veterans, health professionals and the wider community to ensure all generations of service personnel have access to effective treatment when they need it,” Senator Ronaldson said.

Working with Veterans with Mental Health Problems is available to RACGP members through the RACGP’s gplearning website. For more information on the ADF Post-Discharge GP Health Assessment, go to DVA’s At Ease Professional website.

Media inquiries: Minister Ronaldson: Jordi Procel 02 6277 7820 or 0448 232 908
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203