Putting mental health and wellbeing into action

Published on Vanessa Barone (author), CPL Tristan Kennedy (photographer)

Topic(s): Health, Fitness and Wellbeing

File image: Royal Australian Navy sailor Petty Officer Boatswain Mark Rigney inspects sailors before the combined HMAS Albatross and HMAS Creswell Freedom of Entry to Nowra, NSW, November 2018. (photo: CPL Tristan Kennedy)
File image: Royal Australian Navy sailor Petty Officer Boatswain Mark Rigney inspects sailors before the combined HMAS Albatross and HMAS Creswell Freedom of Entry to Nowra, NSW, November 2018.

Committed to the care for our people, Navy has recently released the Navy Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan 2018-2023. Developed to deliver the objectives of the Defence Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2018-2023, the Navy Action Plan aims to develop and maintain a workforce which is ‘Fit to Fight’, ‘Fit to Work’ and ‘Fit for Life’. 

Director Navy Psychology, Jennifer Wheeler, said that like physical health, a member’s mental health is an important part of remaining an effective and capable sailor or officer, as well as leading an enjoyable and fulfilling life.

“Navy has outlined a detailed and comprehensive plan to meet the objectives of the Defence strategy, ensuring that the mental health and wellbeing of Navy members is supported in a holistic way at all points throughout their career, using best-practice initiatives and programs,” Ms Wheeler said.

“The release of the Action Plan is also a timely reminder to care for our mental health and wellbeing over the Christmas period.

“While a joyful time for many, this time of year can leave people feeling stressed and vulnerable to mental health issues, particularly those who have experienced a loss of a family member through death, divorce or estrangement.”

The Australian Psychological Society recently released seven key advice points to help Australians stay mentally healthy:

Be kind to yourself -  treat yourself with the same kindness, concern and support you’d show a good friend facing struggles;

Connect with others - meaningful relationships help mental health;

Accept your feelings - avoiding difficult emotions, keeping feelings to yourself, or stewing over problems reduces wellbeing;

Keep your perspective - look for constructive solutions, think flexibly and see situations from different perspectives when you are confronted by everyday problems;

Live up to your values - live a life consistent with your values;

Look after your body - a good lifestyle supports mental health; and 

Get enough sleep - getting enough quality sleep is essential for physical and mental health.

“Another important part of looking after yourself is seeking help when you need it,” Ms Wheeler said.

Navy members have a range of mental health support services and resources available to them, including Navy Psychology sections, Garrison Health Centres, Chaplains and the ADF Mental Health 24/7 support line which provides confidential telephone service for ADF members and their families on 1800 628 036.

The Navy Mental Health and Wellbeing Action Plan 2018-2023 will be released by DCN, and available on the Navy intranet site, in January 2019.