The demand for psychology appointments has increased by 27 per cent at Mates4Mates in 2020, with the pandemic adding to the toll of mental health on many veterans.
From January to August, the veteran charity provided 1,505 psychology appointments through their Brisbane Family Recovery Centre alone, up 27 per cent from the same period last year.
Mates4Mates has released these figures in the lead up to World Suicide Prevention Day (September 10), and is encouraging veterans to reach out for support if they need it.
Mates4Mates provides support and rehabilitation services to all current and ex-serving Defence Force members impacted by service-related injuries, and their families.
Mates4Mates National Clinical Services Manager Georgia Ash said this week is an important opportunity to raise awareness of suicide prevention and the importance of support.
“You do not have to go through mental health issues and isolation alone,” Ms Ash said.
“We know that this year in particular, many people are dealing with additional stress and feeling more isolated. These things can easily exacerbate mental health conditions and increase the risk of suicide.
“Mental health issues can affect anyone at any time – regardless of age, gender, career choice or life experiences. Right now, while many people are vulnerable, we need to be more vigilant and encourage those around us to reach out for support.
“With the right treatment and support, individuals often go on to successfully manage their symptoms and strengthen their emotional resilience.”
In Australia, men make up 75 per cent of all suicide deaths. Among veterans, men aged under 30 have a suicide rate 2.2 times that of Australian men the same age.
Ms Ash said reducing the stigma of suicide and mental health issues was also important.
“We can all make a difference by talking openly about mental health and suicide and encouraging our friends and family to speak up if they’re struggling,” she said.
“If you know a veteran or family member who needs support, or are experiencing any signs or symptoms personally, please reach out for help.
“Speak with a trusted GP, reach out to Mates4Mates, or call a crisis helpline like Open Arms or Lifeline.”
Mates4Mates offers psychology appointments to veterans and family’s impacted by service, with a GP referral. For more information, phone 1300 462 834 or visit mates4mates.org.
Story source: Mates4Mates
Sarah Jacob is a journalist and editor and is currently The Advocate's Deputy Editor. She has written for a range of print and online publications across Australia and internationally with a focus on the environment and human rights. Previously she worked in conservation science and protected area management, and has completed postgraduate degrees in journalism and marine science.