About Mental Health
In Australia, one in five people will experience a mental health problem or illness. (AIHW 2014)
This includes the experience of short term anxiety and depression, substance use disorders and longer term conditions such as anxiety disorders, chronic depression and schizophrenia.
Traumatic events such as those involving actual or threatened death or serious injury, or witnessing human deprivation (eg regions ravaged by famine or war), can have a strong impact on mental health and wellbeing. Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS), is one of a range of mental disorders that individuals can experience after traumatic events. PTS can be distressing with negative consequences for your health and wellbeing.
Current Mental Health Research
One project currently underway led by Dr Ellie Lawrence-Wood from the Centre for Traumatic Stress Studies at the University of Adelaide, is focused on investigating psychological disorders and symptoms among contemporary female Australian Defence Force members
In what is believed to be an Australian first, Dr Lawrence Wood is looking at the predictors for mental disorders and psychological symptoms among Australian servicewomen and female war veterans.
This study addresses a significant gap in current understanding regarding the mental health of contemporary deployed and non-deployed Australian Defence Force servicewomen.
There is a known increased risk for affective disorders among ADF females compared to females in the general community, and the higher rates of anxiety disorders among ADF females compared to males, highlighting the need to better understand risk and resilience factors in this population.
More broadly, this program of work will eventually provide a baseline examination from which health monitoring and surveillance programs can be developed.
It will also help to prioritise funding aimed at increasing female participation in the ADF, as well as other traditionally male-dominated organisations including emergency services, fire services and police, and importantly, it will provide visibility to a section of Australia’s Defence force that until recently has been largely invisible.
The Yoga Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Study (completed May 2014)
Conducted by the PTSD Unit of the Repat, twenty-seven veterans completed the protocol which involved specially adapted Hatha yoga sessions with an emphasis on mindful body awareness and breathing practices. The veterans then took part in weekly yoga sessions and used a video recording with practice instructions for home use. Structured periodic assessments were used to measure a range of response variables. Yoga was found to produce significant benefits across a wide range of variables.
Symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress all decreased significantly, and sleep quality and overall quality of life were found to have significantly improved after eight weeks of yoga sessions.