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Defence Health

Mental Health Programs

Mental Health Research and Evaluation (MHR&E)

The Mental Health Research and Evaluation section investigates military mental health and wellbeing in the ADF. Projects contribute to the design and delivery of evidence-based mental health programs in the ADF and the evaluation of those programs. The current MHR&E projects are listed below.

Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme

In 2014 the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), in collaboration with the Department of Defence (Defence), commissioned one of the largest and most comprehensive military research programmes undertaken in Australia. The Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme (the Programme) examines the mental, physical and social health of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel, and their families.

This research provides valuable information about the mental health needs, access and use of mental health care services by ADF members who were current serving in 2015 (2015 Regular ADF) and those who transitioned from full-time service between 2010 and 2014 (Transitioned ADF). Building on previous research conducted through the Military Health Outcomes Programme (MilHOP), this is part of an ongoing commitment to invest in initiatives designed to will help DVA and Defence enhance improve health services available for serving and ex-serving ADF personnel members and their families.

The Programme was conducted by a consortium of six of Australia’s leading research institutions led by the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies (CTSS) at the University of Adelaide, and the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS).

The Programme comprises three separate but related studies:

  1. Mental Health and Wellbeing Transition Study;
  2. Impact of Combat Study; and
  3. Family Wellbeing Study.

A total of eight reports will be produced under the current Programme and are due to be released progressively from April 2018.

The first two reports, Mental Health Prevalence and Pathways to Care, were released on 5 Apr 18.

  1. Mental Health Prevalence Report – estimates the prevalence of mental disorders across the mental health spectrum, trauma exposure and suicidal ideation and self-reported mental health symptoms amongst the Transitioned ADF members. It also compares self-reported symptom levels in the Transitioned ADF members with most recent community rates as well as a comparison to the 2015 Regular ADF.

  2. Pathways to Care Report – examines how 2015 Regular ADF and Transitioned ADF members access mental health services, usage patterns and pathways to care. This includes help seeking behaviour, services used, satisfaction with services, pathways into care and perceived barriers and stigma to care.

The remaining six reports are expected to be released progressively during 2018 and 2019.

LASER-Resilience Study

Many ADF members are exposed to potentially traumatic experiences in the course of their duty. These experiences impact on members differently, depending on their psychological and behavioural attributes. The Longitudinal ADF Study Evaluating Resilience (LASER-Resilience) is investigating those psychological and behavioural attributes that contribute to psychological resilience in the ADF by studying new members as they adjust and progress in their military career. The results of this study will inform resilience training programs, such as BattleSMART, and assist in building a stronger and more resilient ADF.

2010 ADF Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study

The 2010 ADF Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study is the first comprehensive investigation of the mental health of an ADF serving population. The study provides a summary of the 12-month prevalence of mental health disorders in the ADF and identifies subgroups that warrant further investigation. The performance of mental health instruments currently used in the ADF and occupational issues of relevance to the ADF mental health strategy are also examined. The full report can be found along with other findings from the Military Health Outcomes Programme (MilHOP).

The 2010 ADF Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study Executive Report of key findings and a detailed technical version 2010 ADF Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study Report are available.

Military and Veteran Research Study Roll

To assist with the recruitment of participants for current and future Defence or Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) approved health research, DVA and Defence have established the Military and Veteran Research Study Roll (Study Roll). This is a database which contains the details of current serving ADF personnel, including Reservists, and ex-serving ADF personnel who transitioned out of the ADF between 2010 and 2014. To protect the privacy of current and former personnel, the Study Roll is being held at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW).

Current ADF members, including Reserve personnel, were notified of the Study Roll in March 2015, via address details held in PMKeyS. Between March and May 2015, all members were offered the opportunity to opt-out of having their details provided to researchers for the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme.

The details of some individuals on the Study Roll were provided to the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies, University of Adelaide in May 2015 for the Transition and Wellbeing Research Programme. Details of any individuals who opted out prior to 7 May 2015 were not provided to the University of Adelaide.

ADF members still have the opportunity to opt-out of their details being provided for future research. Individuals who do not wish for their details to be provided to researchers can opt-out with no detriment to their career or future medical care.

Those who wish to remain on the Study Roll do not have to do anything.

If you wish to opt-out, please email your full name, PMKeyS number and date of birth to optout.studyroll@defence.gov.au and ‘OPT OUT’ in the subject line.

For further information on the Study Roll, see the Frequently Asked Questions.

ADF Mental Health Surveillance

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The goal of ADF Mental Health Surveillance is to contribute to improvements in the mental health and wellbeing of ADF personnel by conducting research in support of the ADF mental health strategy, mental health screening and mental health services provided to ADF members.

    The main tasks include:
  1. Managing and analysing all mental health screening related data;
  2. Providing ad hoc data summaries based on mental health screening and surveillance reports;
  3. Undertaking psychometric and evaluation studies of mental health screening instruments;
  4. Providing client sponsored research and project evaluation support;
  5. Supporting mental health research governance, coordination and representation; and
  6. Contributing to the information management and system development of mental health support processes.

25 May, 2018