ADF Army soldier in bushland

Townsville veterans now have a new free mental health service. Here’s how it can help.

If you’ve spent time in the Australian Defence Force then you’ll know that Townsville is Australia’s military ‘capital’. It is home to the ADF’s largest army base and also has a significant Air Force presence. Indeed, the town and surrounding region contains the highest concentration of veterans and ex-ADF personnel in the country, thought to represent 20 per cent1 of the entire local community.

 

Why is there a new veterans’ mental health service?

Current and ex-ADF members are significantly over-represented in the national suicide rate. That’s according to Operation Compass, a campaign that plans to reduce the suicide rate among the ADF community in Townsville.

The new service is called NQ Connect Operation Compass and it’s a free counselling and mental health service for current and ex-ADF members in the Townsville region.

It is well-known that current and ex-military personnel are often reluctant to talk about their experiences. While the reasons are highly personal and vary immensely between individuals, a common characteristic among many members is the feeling that “talking about it” is perceived as a sign of weakness.

This perceived belief is a key reason for the establishment of the service.

 

How can it help?

NQ Connect Operation Compass provides free counselling and support, staffed by trained and professional counsellors. You can call at any time, from a private and discreet place of your choosing. NQ Connect Operation Compass also provides web chat and video counselling. It is completely non-judgmental and is available 24/7, 365 days a year.

A key feature of the service is a series of honest and unscripted videos from veterans. They recount their personal experiences with PTSD, depression and anxiety after they had been discharged, and they explain how talking about it and seeking help improved their situation. You can watch their stories here: NQconnect.com.au/OperationCompass.

Several free tools are also provided, including:

 

The key message from NQ Connect is straightforward: depression, anxiety and PTSD are not new among veterans. What’s changed is how it’s recognised and managed.

 

Worried about something? Need to talk to someone? Call 1300 059 625 for a free and safe talk with a professional counsellor.

 

Need help? You can find support services in northern Queensland or complete a self-administered K10 test for depression and anxiety. You can also join the online social and mental health forum to talk with like-minded people.

 

1 Operation Compass, https://www.opcompass.org.au/copy-of-program-objectives-1, accessed 11/07/2018