Defence marked the October 10 World Mental Health Day with online and in-person activities around Australia in the lead-up to the day from October 4-8.

This year’s theme of ‘Look up, look out and look forward’ aimed to encourage proactive mental health by noticing surroundings and taking care of others while looking forward to upcoming activities.

Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell said this year’s theme was a reminder to look out for one’s mental health and those around them.

“Activities aimed at improving and maintaining mental health should not be reserved until someone’s mental health has begun to suffer,” General Campbell said.

“Rather, there are steps that can be taken even when someone is feeling mentally healthy to maintain their wellbeing.”

General Campbell encouraged anyone faced with mental health concerns, or those who know their mental health could be improved, to seek help.

Mental health is a continuum, and by proactively seeking support and treatment, you have the greatest chance of recovery, and the ability to prevent smaller issues from growing into bigger ones that may impact your career and your life more broadly.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and its associated lockdowns and restrictions, has been a particularly challenging time, according to General Campbell. 

“These challenges make prioritising our mental health and wellbeing more important than ever,” he said.

From July 2020 to June 2021, more than 8000 Defence personnel sought support at health centres. And more than 1700 Defence staff attended mental health training sessions to increase their knowledge, confidence and skills to better support peers and themselves.

Know that you are not alone, and that there is support available.

Support is available through:

• Your local Garrison Health Centre.

• Defence Health and Wellbeing ‘Fighting Fit’ Portal.

• Defence All-hours Support Line (ASL) – 1800 628 036.

• Defence Member and Family Support (formerly DCO) – 1800 624 608.

• Open Arms – veterans and families counselling – 1800 011 046.

• NewAccess Program – 1300 907 814.

• Defence Chaplaincy Support – 1300 333 362.

• Employee Assistance Program – 1300 687 327.

• 1800 IMSICK – 1800 467 425.

• WHS Mental Health Portal.