Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Dan Tehan today officially launched the trial of a new intensive treatment program for current and former Australian Defence Force members who have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Mr Tehan said the research was part of the government’s drive to improve the mental health of current and former ADF personnel.
He said the Rapid Exposure Supporting Trauma Recovery (RESTORE) trial was a world-leading research program that would assess whether delivering treatment over an intensive two-week period would provide better mental health outcomes.
Around 200 current and former ADF members will be recruited for the trial, which will run over two years.
Mr Tehan said the government had also provided $6.1 million to Phoenix Australia to support the establishment of the Centenary of Anzac Centre, which will provide support services for practitioners and ex-service organisations who work closely with veterans with mental health concerns.
“It will also undertake research into identifying better ways to treat veterans with mental health issues.
“Current PTSD treatment involves weekly therapy over three months and this trial offers the potential to achieve the same positive results over a two-week program of intensive treatment,” Mr Tehan said.
“The outcomes of the trial will be incredibly important in shaping how the Departments of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) and Defence approach the future delivery of mental health care for Australia’s military personnel and veterans.
“This trial will help improve our understanding of PTSD and how best to treat it, which will benefit our veterans and the broader Australian community.”
A four-year partnership project grant through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) was awarded to DVA, Defence and the University of Melbourne to conduct the RESTORE trial.
Phoenix Australia – Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health is leading the project on behalf of the university.
The trial will be conducted at Phoenix Australia in Melbourne, the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS) offices in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, and the ADF Centre for Mental Health in Sydney.
Mr Tehan said said the government had already made mental health treatment for PTSD, depression, anxiety and alcohol and substance misuse free for anyone who has served one day in the ADF .
“This treatment is demand driven and fully funded, so if someone needs treatment, it is available,” he said.
“All current serving ADF members can also seek comprehensive mental-health treatment and support through their local garrison health service.
“In addition, any veteran, ADF member or their family members can also pick up the phone and call VVCS 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 1800 011 046 or visit the VVCS website (http://www.vvcs.gov.au/) to access free and confidential Australia-wide counselling and support for mental-health conditions.
“The government is ensuring those who have served our country can readily access appropriate support services and treatment for the mental-health challenges they may face.”
Further information on the RESTORE trial can be found on the Phoenix Australia website (http://phoenixaustralia.org/expertise/research/current-treatment-trials/restore/).