Supporting the coordination of mental health services for veterans

01 February 2018  Connect

Le Le is the Coordinator of MHPN’s Brisbane Veteran-Focussed Network.  She worked as a fly-in fly-out psychologist with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for two years, before moving from Sydney to Brisbane, and back into private practice.  Brisbane has many services that support the mental health of veterans, but Le Le noticed that they weren’t working as effectively with one another as they could be.

Living and working for the first time in Brisbane, Le Le sought to join a professional network to meet local practitioners.  With her strong interest and background in supporting veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder, Le Le also wanted to join a network to raise awareness amongst her peers about the struggles that veterans face when they leave the ADF, and the strong support needed. 

Halfway through last year, Le Le contacted MHPN and with the help of Project Officer, Amanda Zivcic, the process of establishing a veterans’ network was very easy and fast.  In October, the Brisbane Veteran-Focussed Network held its first meeting. 

“Brisbane has a lot of services, but some are duplicated and work independently. Practitioners supporting veterans in Brisbane often work as silos and can reinvent the wheel, each and every time.  One of the aims of this network is to bring everyone together and encourage service coordination, which will have a positive impact on the delivery of mental health services to our veterans,” said Le Le.

Attending the network’s inaugural meeting in October, were over 30 mental health practitioners from a variety of disciplines, and a number of people from different services.  Initially, the meeting was to be held at the Veterans and Veterans’ Families Counselling Service (VVCS) office, but with so many interested, a much larger venue was booked.  The group included representatives from Queensland Health, VVCS, Ex-Service Organisations (ESOs), private practitioners and also practitioners who work at Brisbane’s Gallipoli Barracks.  The meeting’s guest speaker was retired Afghanistan war veteran, Matt Sheahan.  Matt is a volunteer from Overwatch Australia, a veteran mental health and suicide prevention organisation.  He talked and answered questions about life after the Army. 

While some members attended to learn more about veteran support and to network, a group of older, enthusiastic practitioners came to the meeting so that they could share their practice and knowledge.  These practitioners, who are approaching retirement, are passionate about supporting the mental health of veterans, and saw the meeting as an opportunity to pass on their years’ of experience, and also to mentor the younger practitioner generation. 

The meeting highlighted the many and different components of support needed for veterans, including access to services such as housing and employment.  Le Le will invite other related services to future network meetings.

“There was a level of excitement from members after the meeting, as practitioners and service providers realised the potential impact that regular meetings will have on service coordination and knowledge in Brisbane, and the flow on affect this will have on the mental health of veterans and their families,” she said. 

If you would like to be invited to the next Brisbane Veteran-Focussed MHPN Network meeting, email Amanda Zivcic.  

Find you closest veteran network here.  Not one in your area?  Read about how easy it is to start a Veteran - Focussed MHPN Network.