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GP Learning Veterans’ mental health

Military service can provide much for a person, often giving serving men and women a strong sense of purpose, meaning, and personal and national identity.

Those same men and women, however, are confronted with experiences – good and bad – most people in the general community will never face. Exposure to traumatic events and other occupational stressors can lead to the development of personal problems, particularly those related to mental health, for some veterans.

‘We do know that being in the military carries with it risks to physical, mental and social health, and that there are a signifi cant number of Australian veterans who will develop a mental health problem such as depression, PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder] or alcohol abuse,’ Associate Professor Darryl Wade, a clinical psychologist and Director of Education and Training at the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH), told Good Practice.

‘We have a duty to ensure that those who have served their country receive the very best mental health care.’

According to RACGP President Dr Frank R Jones, general practice is an ideal place for veterans to receive the often different types of care they require.

‘GPs are frontline in the effort to curb mental health disorders in Australia’s returned veterans and must be alert to the unique mental, physical and cognitive health issues that often present as a consequence of trauma,’ he said.