Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Dan Tehan praised the veterans who volunteer their time to support other veterans with mental health issues as he toured the Peer to Peer Support Network pilot program in Townsville today 2 September 2016.
Mr Tehan visited the premises of Mates4Mates to meet volunteer mentors taking part in a mental health support trial and to listen to former Defence personnel talk about their experiences.
The program trains veterans with experience of mental illness to be mentors to other veterans seeking help with their mental health.
“We know that veterans experiencing mental health issues who feel supported during their treatment are more likely to make a complete recovery,” Mr Tehan said.
“A veteran who has served their country and faced mental health challenges can provide valuable insight and support to another veteran who is just starting their journey to recovery.
“The mentors and the veterans share a common experience and a common language. These mentors can look a veteran in the eye and say, ‘I know what you are going through and there is hope,’ which is a powerful message to deliver.
“The mentors taking part in this trial served their country in the armed forces and are serving their country again by supporting other veterans to get better.
“They are helping break down barriers that may prevent veterans from getting the help they need.
“We want our current and former Australian Defence Force [ADF] members to know that services exist to support them and the Government is working on innovative solutions that will improve those services.”
Townsville is one of two centres hosting a 12-month peer-to-peer pilot program to improve veterans’ mental health.
“The Government is also developing a Suicide Prevention Trial Site in Townsville that will be rolled out through the North Queensland Primary Health Network. As part of its work, the trial will focus on veterans’ mental health,” Mr Tehan said.
“This will be one of 12 innovative, front-line trial sites in our fight against suicide, which will improve understanding of the challenges and work to develop best-practice services that can be applied nationwide.
“The National Mental Health Commission will shortly start work on its review of suicide and self-harm prevention services across Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
“One suicide is one too many, and as a society we must address mental health issues together to find solutions. The Government has already announced an additional $192 million to tackle the mental health challenges across the whole Australian community.
“The additional investment complements the range of veteran mental health initiatives introduced by the Government, including access to free treatment for a range of mental health conditions for any current or former permanent member of the ADF.”
“If you are interested in taking part in the Peer to Peer Support Network pilot program as a Peer Mentor or a Peer and would like further information on how to become involved, please contact Mental Illness Fellowship on (07) 4725 3664 (Townsville) or DefenceCare on (02) 8088 0388 (Sydney).”
Minister Tehan’s Office: Byron Vale, 0428 262 894
Department of Veterans’ Affairs Media: 02 6289 6203
Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) can be reached 24 hours a day across Australia for crisis support and free and confidential counselling. Phone 1800 011 046 (international: +61 8 8241 45 46). VVCS is a service founded by Vietnam veterans.