Statement from Soldier On

Over the weekend we heard reports within the veteran community that another three veterans had tragically taken their own life last week.

There are no words to communicate how truly devastating it is to lose four veterans to suicide in one week alone.

Our thoughts and hearts go out to their family and friends.

In light of this heartbreaking news, Soldier On would like to remind veterans and their family members to seek support for mental health issues, if needed.

In the past, Soldier On’s Director of Psychology Services, Dr Michelle Buchholz has encouraged veterans and family members to seek support if they are thinking about or planning suicide. She reassures veterans that “these feelings and thoughts can pass, and it is possible to start feeling better, especially with assistance and support.”

Soldier On would like to remind you that you are not alone in your mental health battles. There are doctors and psychologists who are highly trained to work with people having difficulties in their lives, and do so every day. These health professionals genuinely want to help you start to feel better.

And it is not just mental health illnesses that doctors and psychologists can assist with; they also work with people who are stressed or having relationship difficulties or who are experiencing a bit of a rough patch in their lives but don’t necessarily have a mental health condition.

Most importantly, we want to remind veterans and their family members that reaching out for support is not a sign of weakness. It takes courage to ask for a helping hand in life.

We see first-hand the difference support can make in the life of a veteran impacted psychologically from his or her time in the Defence Force. We know that support can work and bring relief.

Dr Buchholz says counselling is not just talking about your feelings.

“Mental health professionals can help you to understand your symptoms, and show you that you’re not ‘going crazy’ and that there is a way forward.

“They also can help to teach you new skills to help improve and protect your mental health. These are skills that we don’t tend to learn anywhere else in our daily lives, and can help you to deal with negative thoughts and feelings, and bring you out of dark places,” says Dr Buchholz.

In addition to offering psychology services, Soldier On also offers employment and education support and activities that promote social connectedness, to combat mental health issues in the veteran community.

Attending a coffee catch up or a surfing weekend can be a great first step to overcoming mental health issues. And successfully transitioning from the Defence Force to the community can also mitigate or reduce triggers for mental health conditions.

There are lots of options for veterans who want to seek mental health support. See the list below.

Please stay safe. Please look after yourselves, and look out for each other.

MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES FOR VETERANS & FAMILIES

SOLDIER ON offers free psychology services in Sydney, Canberra, Currumbin, Melbourne and Perth. Please email psychology@soldieron.org.au for more information.

The VETERANS AND VETERANS’ FAMILIES COUNSELLING SERVICE (VVCS) offers free services with counsellors and has a 24-hour contact number in case you need assistance outside of business hours. VVCS is contactable on 1800 011 046.

BEYOND BLUE can be contacted for support any time of the day or night and provide one-on-one chats with trained mental health professionals. Their number is 1300 22 4636.

LIFELINE provides crisis support and suicide prevention services and is contactable on 13 11 14.

Some RSLs provide mental health services, please check with your local sub branch.

MATES4MATES offers free psychology services in Townsville and Brisbane. Please visit their website for more information.

You can also speak to your GP who will be able to refer you to a suitable clinician.

For more mental health services available to veterans and families, please visit the ‘Need Help?’ page on our website – http://bit.ly/1evud58

March 14, 2017