A RESEARCH trial headed by a Hunter-based researcher is examining how a social network support group affects young veterans drinking alcohol and experiencing depressive symptoms.
University of Newcastle Associate Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin, who researches in conjunction with the Hunter Medical Research Institute’s Brain and Mental Health program, will oversee the Veteran Self-Help for Alcohol and Depression (vSHADE) program.
vSHADE will offer participants free access to a series of 10 online modules covering topics including mindfulness, mood management, positive thought patterns and advice on how to make positive changes.
Associate Professor Kay-Lambkin said mental health and well-being of ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel was of paramount importance.
“Our online research project is designed for young Australian veterans who are feeling down or lost, and who tend to drink a bit to help cope with some of these feelings,” she said.
“We want people to know that if this sounds familiar, that help is available without having to leave the house.
The program has been tested on civilians and shown to reduce depression and hazardous alcohol use.
Project partner Adrian Sutter, an army veteran, said new approaches were needed to engage younger veterans.
“Technology is key in being able to connect younger veterans with strategies to improve their mental health and physical health, given this generation really doesn’t access traditional forms of treatment and support,” he said. “We need new ways to engage younger veterans and to encourage them to seek help for their mental health,” he said.
Interested people can visit www.vshade.com.au to see if they are eligible to participate in the study.