The cause and effects of post traumatic stress (PTSD) in Australian defence force (ADF) personnel is a taboo topic amongst soldiers and is poorly addressed as an organisation. This topic is important to me because the lack of treatment results in family breakdowns and poor mental health for soldiers. I find this to be a great community health disparity. During my five years service in the Australian Army, I have experienced the culture and insular environment of a combat occupation. At times it felt more like a religion than a job that engrained certain paradigms which were a blend of formal instruction and battalion culture, a lot of which was unhealthy. In training, I was exposed to psychological abuse known as ‘shock of capture’ and witnessed the effects of hazing (Institutionalised bulling) on fellow soldiers retuned from hostile deployments. It is a common belief that post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) originates from an individual traumatic experience, critical thought has and inside observation has led me to believe there are more sources. There are many learned behaviours that prevent the treatment of PTSD in the ADF. Toughness and showing no signs of weakness is both learned culturally and in formal instruction. This paradigm translates to an ideal of individual strength of body and mind and while apparent physical injury is recognised as cause for medical attention, psychological injury is culturally not accepted and therefore the condition of PTSD is often untreated which can result in antisocial behaviour in afflicted individuals causing strain and breakdown of personal and professional relationships. Greater awareness of PTSD and removal of the dishonour associated with impacted mental health could vastly improve the ADF community. Seminars with the full support of chain of command could increase awareness and education. Until a comprehensive ADF mental health program is adopted perhaps the most effective way is private and discrete therapy invitation. A beginning consultation could be initiated with a poster in numerous places on base primarily targeted at soldiers but also accessible for family members. The poster would have an eye catching image, description of PTSD, symptoms, and information pertaining to freely accessible psychological consultation for all soldiers without the possibility of administrative action such as discharge. An annual 45 minute ADF suicide awareness powerpoint presentation is insufficient mental health education. This project will attempt to bring recognition to and reduce stigma associated with mental health issues that harmfully affect individuals and families.
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Australian Nursing and Midwifery Council
Post traumatic stress disorder
The following is a discussion on the many facets of...