Lifting the stigma, one step at a time

This article has photo gallery Published on CAPT Anna-Lise Rosendahl (author), CPL Bill Solomou (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra

Topic(s): ADF Metal Health Day

Australian Defence Force and Australian Public Service personnel participating in the ADF Mental Health Walk, a bridge to bridge lap around Lake Burley Griffin, as part Defence Mental Health month. (photo: CPL Bill Solomou)
Australian Defence Force and Australian Public Service personnel participating in the ADF Mental Health Walk, a bridge to bridge lap around Lake Burley Griffin, as part Defence Mental Health month.

Chief of Defence, Air Chief Marshal Mark Binskin led around 300 Defence personnel in a walk around Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra on 9 October to raise awareness of mental health issues.

The 5 kilometre bridge-to-bridge walk was one of several events being held across the Australian Defence Force, in a month-long effort to highlight mental health concerns and support services available.

According to Air Chief Marshal Binskin, about 20 per cent of people in the Australian Defence Force have mental health issues.

“We know that leads to about 8 to 10 per cent post traumatic stress disorder,” Air Chief Marshal Binskin said.

“What we’re trying to do is address those issues early and look to break down the stigma of mental health and seek recovery for our people as best as we can.”

Director Navy Logistics, Captain Lisa Batchler made the walk a family event, bringing her daughter along for the stroll.

“I think it’s a great idea, because too many people get caught up in the office and don’t make the effort to do this,” Captain Batchler said.

“We see so many people who are struggling, and just even talking about it and saying it’s ok to ask for help goes a long way.”

Army Personnel Operations Officer Lieutenant Colonel Michael Webbe said there was fantastic support when needed.

“We also have a number of support lines, the all-hours mental health support line and fair go hotlines, and we also sometimes refer people to organisations like Beyond Blue,” he said.

The mental health theme for this year is ‘Take Action’ and is all about being positive and proactive.

“Mental health is everyone’s responsibility,” said Lieutenant Colonel Webbe.

“It’s a responsibility for yourself it’s a responsibility for your mates.”

Flight Lieutenant Candice Gardner, of Logistics Branch - Air Force, also participated in the walk and said it was a good turnout.

“The walk is for everyone, you can do it if you’re a runner or a walker, everyone could participate,” she said.

She said it was important to raise awareness about mental health issues within Defence. “It’s good for everyone to be aware mental health issues can affect anyone no matter where they work in the organisation.”

If you or someone you know in Defence is seeking support for mental health issues, call the All-hours support line – 1800 628 036, Defence Family Helpline – 1800 624 608, Veterans and Veterans’ Families Counselling Service: 1800 011 046 or Lifeline: 13 11 14.