Let's talk about mental health and wellbeing

This article has photo gallery Published on Department of Defence (author), Ms Sarah Tennant (photographer)

Location(s): Adelaide, South Australia

Topic(s): Navy Headquarters South Australia

From right, Senior Nursing Officer, Navy Headquarters-South Australia, Captain David West, RANR presents Commander Steve Dunning, RANR with a Living Works Bronze Pin and certificate which recognised facilitation of 25 Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshops (ASIST). (photo: Sarah Tennant)
From right, Senior Nursing Officer, Navy Headquarters-South Australia, Captain David West, RANR presents Commander Steve Dunning, RANR with a Living Works Bronze Pin and certificate which recognised facilitation of 25 Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshops (ASIST).

With Defence’s ongoing commitment to World Mental Health Day, held on 10 October every year, Reserve Navy Commander Steve Dunning, also a qualified mental health practitioner, talks about mental health in the workplace and the support available to Navy personnel and their families.
 
The theme for Australian Defence Force people to focus on this year is ‘Lets talk’, and looks at initiating conversations about mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, how to provide support to each other, and how to access support when needed.
 
“There is significant stigma associated with mental health and people are often reluctant to seek help. Through activities such as Mental Health Day we can all play our part and foster connectivity in the Navy community and beyond," Commander Dunning said.
 
“My mantra is ‘it begins with me’, and as a Navy member I believe I have a responsibility to my colleagues and others to be active in any conversation about mental health."

Commander Dunning, one of only a handful of Reserve suicide 'first aid' trainers has trained more than 600 Defence personnel over the past decade and said he is passionate about encouraging open and honest debate about mental health issues.
 
Having qualified as an Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Trainer (ASIST) in 2006, Commander Dunning has also co-facilitated 28 workshops for others on behalf of Joint Health Command.
 
“The training has provided me with an opportunity to facilitate open and honest discussion about mental health issues in the Defence Force, and has also allowed me to raise awareness of the range of support services available in the service and the broader community for personnel and their families,” he said.
 
Commander Dunning said the intent of ASIST is to help increase people’s ability to recognise when someone may be at risk of suicide and enable them to reach out in a supportive way that links them with resources.
 
“Itis a suicide prevention program and part of the Austrlain Defence Force's broader mental health strategy and provides participants with the skills to identify at-risk individuals and provide initial mental health support. Training is a two day intensive, interactive workshop delivered by mental health professionals,” he said.
 
There are a range of Defence-specific resources and activities in support of World Mental Health Day. This includes a video and accompanying facilitator’s guide that can be viewed as part of mental health workplace activities, information about mental health issues and where to seek help for Defence members including Reservists, civilian staff and families.
 
For support services, fact sheets and information, visit http://www.defence.gov.au/health/DMH/.