Research Stigma Reduction Suicide — 18 March 2016

soldier-917921_1280RETURNED Diggers are nearly three times more likely to take their own lives or consider suicide, a damning report into the state of veterans’ mental health has revealed.

A Senate inquiry, prompted by the high rate of mental health problems among veterans and the high rate of homelessness, has recommended drastic intervention.

It has also called for greater warnings about the side-effects of antimalarial drug mefloquine after accounts of psychotic episodes among some veterans who were administered it.

The committee recommen­ded annual mental health checks for all ADF members and for records of potentially traumatic events to be made more readily available to medical officers and mental health professionals following their deployment.

Servicemen and women should also be encouraged to seek earlier mental health treatment and ­encourage members to plan beyond their next deployment.

 The report also calls for more ADF members, who have successfully deployed after rehabilitation for mental ill-health, to be “mental health champions” to help remove the stigma of depression among troops.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs should also identify veterans who are at risk of homelessness because of mental health issues and provide ongoing case managers.

Tasmanian senator Peter Whish-Wilson said an imme­diate injection of funding to Homes for Heroes was needed.

Senator Whish-Wilson also wanted a further ­inquiry into the capacity of the RSL and other veterans’ groups to increase their rate of funding.

This article first appeared on ‘Herald Sun’ on 17 March 2016.

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