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From a young age, Matthew (Matt) Newlands knew he wanted to become a police officer and that dream became a reality in 2006 at 20-years-old. Proud of his achievements, Matt served the community as a police officer for almost 10 years before finding himself in a dark hole suffering Post-Traumatic Stress and Depression, avoiding seeking help.

Matt dedicated his life to his job, sacrificing birthdays, holidays and special occasions to keep our communities safe. Rising up the ranks, Matt was achieving milestones in his career while his mental health was rapidly declining.

“Looking back, there were definitely signs and symptoms that I was suffering Post-Traumatic Stress from what I had witnessed on the job. I was waking up in the middle of the night for no reason, I was angrier than usual and after a while I thought it was my new normal,” Matt said.

“It was an accumulation of events, including a fellow police officer committing suicide that pushed me to the point I was questioning how much more I could take.”

Sadly, Matt hit rock bottom, causing a wedge between himself and his loving wife Allira and young daughter Grace. After facing many hurdles and some setbacks, Matt no longer works in the police force and has turned a new chapter in his life.

Today, Matt is focusing on rebuilding his life, beginning his journey by participating in the STAIR* program, a peer support program and skills-based intervention for veterans and emergency service personnel proudly supported by The Road Home.

Led by Australian Army Reservist, military psychiatrist and veteran Dr Jon Lane, the STAIR program is an Australian-first that is changing the lives of those struggling with their mental health as a result of their service.

“I found out about the STAIR program through a friend and at first I didn’t think I deserved the opportunity to participate in the program,” Matt said.

“I’m so glad I did because the program has had an instrumental impact on my mindset at a critical time for me. When I began the program back in February this year, I was still unemployed and during the 12 weeks I was able to get a job and really get my life together again.

“It certainly gave me a lot of tools for my personal life and my relationship with my wife and daughter improved dramatically.”

Today, Matt is very open about his struggles and has even shared his mental health battles to others in the emergency services field, hoping his story will encourage those struggling to seek help.

“I hope my story can help others and stop them from going through the same battles and pain I went through. I’m so grateful for the STAIR program and The Road Home for helping me through my journey, getting my life back on track again.”

If you are interested in joining the STAIR program, please contact Mark Reidy from The Road Home on 0400 925 108 or email mreidy@theroadhome.com.au.

* STAIR: Skills Training in Affective Interpersonal Regulation