26 September 2023

Veterans’ health in Open Arms

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Support for veterans and their families who may be struggling with mental health conditions or at risk of suicide, will be enhanced through the Community and Peer Program being rolled out across Australia.

Minister for Veterans and Defence Personnel, Darren Chester said the Townsville pilot program had achieved positive results with Open Arms peers breaking down barriers to care, improving relationships with key community groups, and reducing the stigma for veterans around mental health and seeking help.

“Since the First World War, veterans and their families have understood the importance and value of mateship that is instilled during service, placing them in a unique position to support one another,” Mr Chester said.

The Minister said the program, run by Open Arms – Veterans and Families Counselling, connects those struggling with mental health with peers who bring a lived experience of mental health issues and, importantly, of recovery.

“This program harnesses that mateship and ensures veterans can talk to other veterans, and families to other military families, to assist each other with the support of mental health clinicians.”

He said it was an important part of the support system – improving the holistic mental health and wellbeing outcomes for veterans and their families.

A total of 29 peers, in addition to the six peers from the Townsville pilot, are being trained as Mental Health Peer Workers and will be employed at 14 Open Arms locations nationally.

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