As Assistant Director Mental Health Research and Evaluation in Joint Health Command, Helen Benassi, manages all strategic mental health research projects within Defence. This includes ongoing reporting from the ADF Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study and the Longitudinal ADF Study Evaluating Resilience.
She is also an investigator and project team member in the Transition and Wellbeing Research Program, a collaborative project with the Department of Veterans' Affairs. This role includes maintaining strategic research partnerships with various research centres, including the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health and the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies.
Ms Benassi joined the Department of Defence in 2005 after completing the Graduate Program at the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations. She has worked in many research disciplines during her career in Defence, including mental health screening and surveillance, unit climate, mental health epidemiology and personnel selection. An investigator on the 2010 ADF Mental Health Prevalence and Wellbeing Study, she said her career has largely been focused on research related to the mental health and wellbeing of ADF members.
Ms Benassi has a Graduate Diploma in Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts/Science from the Australian National University. She completed a psychology internship with Defence, registering as a psychologist in 2010. During her internship, she took on non-research roles such as psychological screening, selection and counselling and has also worked on operational psychological screening policy and related tasks.
Working in Defence runs in the family as Ms Benassi's husband also works for Defence. Before having a family, Ms Benassi said she played hockey and did volunteer counselling, but now, with a young family, she said she is content to juggle being a mum and a wife with having a rewarding career.