Mental health support on the mind

Published on LEUT Ryan Zerbe (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Blinman, South Australia

South Australia's Trojan's trek (photo: Unknown)
South Australia's Trojan's trek

For HMAS Creswell’s Chief Petty Officer Aviation Technician Avionics Amy Vickers supporting her teammates is an integral part of her job, but a recent experience has given her an opportunity to reflect on how far Navy has come in supporting those with stress-related illnesses.

Chief Petty Officer Vickers completed the 2016 Trojan’s Trek in South Australia, supporting more than 20 other current and former Australian Defence Force members and emergency service workers managing stress-related illnesses, including post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety.

“One of the key lessons for me was that people managing mental health challenges are often not accurately reflected in their behaviours,” Chief Petty Officer Vickers said.

“It is a humbling experience to sit beside those who are suffering and feel, see and hear what it is really like for them.”

Chief Petty Officer Vickers has been involved in Trojan’s Trek since 2014 when a women’s program was first implemented and has been a program mentor and facilitator since last year.

“It has given me an opportunity to reflect on how my behaviours can impact others and understand my people to build supportive and resilient teams,” she said.

In addition to her leadership role on the trek, Chief Petty Officer Vickers has also pursued similar skills throughout her 21 year career, including mental health first aid, suicide intervention and sexual misconduct and prevention and response.

“Trojan’s Trek has provided me with an opportunity to reflect on my years of service and how Navy has culturally evolved,” she said.

“It is worthwhile work being able to offer self-help tools to make positive choices that can benefit people in the future and navigate troubles in their post-service lives.”

Founded by Vietnam War veterans in the 1990s, Trojan’s Trek is a peer support program to enable participants to identify how thoughts and feelings influence behaviour and bring about positive change.

Chief Petty Officer Vickers encourages others to take advantage of opportunities to professionally and personally develop their skills to understand how stress illnesses can impact their teammates, friends and family.