News • 24 Apr 2019

Mental Health Support for Veterans

Ryan Dixon is a Psychologist within the Open Minds Mental Health Hub at Morayfield, and uses his own past experiences to work with people from the veteran community. Ryan focuses on supporting them to overcome life’s challenges and meet their goals. 

Ryan is a Psychologist with six years as a member of the ADF delivering mental health and psychology services to military personnel, Ryan is passionate about working with veterans of the Australian Defence Force, connecting individuals with their core values as a motivator for change.

Ryan has worked with the different ranges of health issues from depression, anxiety, family stressors, trauma, resilience and stress management and those dealing with a host of situational crisis and emotional issues.

We had a conversation with Ryan to help people understand the different challenges, veterans face and tips around dealing with these challenges:

Tell us about your qualifications and experience working with veterans to provide mental health support?

I began working as a psychologist intern / rehabilitation consultant in 2010, and I qualified as a general psychologist in 2012. 

I was commissioned as a Psychologist Officer in 2012 based at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville, then over the next 5 years, a variety of postings including Puckapanyul Victoria, Campbell Barracks in Western Australia and their differing units of Transport, Artillery, Armoured and the Special Air Services Regiment.  Before joining Open Minds, I was fortunate to oversee the operation of all three military forces of Army, Navy and Airforce.

Where does your passion for supporting veterans with their mental health come from?

Having worked alongside so many individuals serving, I have observed the challenging nature of the work they do, and the impact this has on their families. 

Having served myself, I know the stigma, I know the mind-set that it takes to do the work these individuals do. Being able to walk that path with people while they’re struggling is very humbling.

What are your objectives in your current role at the Open Minds Mental Health Hub at Morayfield?

I am passionate about using my skills and experience to support the mental health of others. My objective is to support and improve the quality of life of those who are referred and support them to succeed in their personal objectives.

What mental health illnesses to you find veterans typically present with?

Depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress and other disorders are common among the war veteran community.

These mental health issues affect everyone in different ways – from sleeplessness and recurring memories to family violence and excessive drinking. What you are feeling may be related to a mental health issue that you are not aware of.

Common symptoms of mental illness include:

  • poor sleep, problems with your sex life, problems in your personal relationships
  • loneliness, feeling down, anxiousness, recurring memories, grief, feelings of anger
  • excessive drug taking, excessive drinking, violence, gambling.

If you think you have, or someone close to you has a mental health issue, it is important to get help before things get worse.

What are some coping strategies?

If you are in crisis, in danger, or you have seriously harmed yourself, call triple zero (000) for emergency services. 

If you do not need immediate assistance but you need help it is a good idea to talk to your friends and family about how you are feeling. They can give you the support you need while you work through the issues you are dealing with. Alternatively, there is a list of veteran support services available below.

If you are not comfortable talking to those people that are close to you, visit your local doctor or healthcare professional. They will be able to provide referrals and direct you to more support if you need it.

What is it like working in the Open Minds Mental Health Hub at Morayfield?

The Open Minds Mental Health Hub is an asset to the local community. There is a great team of highly trained professionals all working toward the same objectives in a great team environment. The facility is custom built and designed to provide a professional service to those who require mental health intervention and support.

Open Minds is a great place to work because it acts in accordance with its company values. The provision of services that allow individuals to live more independent and positive lives.

You will find Ryan working full time at the Open Minds Mental Health Hub at Morayfield, Monday through to Friday. 

Are you a veteran who needs help with your mental health?

You can book in an appointment to the Open Minds Mental Health Hub at Morayfield here. 

Below are contact details for further support:

Australian Defence Force (ADF) All Hours Support Line – call 1800 628 036 for 24-hour counselling and support. This service is available to all ADF members and their families.

Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS)  – call 1800 011 046 for 24-hour Australia-wide counselling and support. This service is available to all veterans and their families.

The Defence Family Helpline – call 1800 624 608 for 24-hour support, information and help in connecting with your local community.

Lifeline – call 13 11 14 for free, 24-hour Australia-wide crisis support and suicide prevention services. 

Related articles

Proud to support Ipswich and Kingaroy communities’ mental health through Head to Health services

29 May 2023

Open Minds will be providing increased access to mental health supports for adults in the Darling Downs ...

Read More
Proud to support Ipswich and Kingaroy communities’ mental health through Head to Health services

Five ways to help manage symptoms of schizophrenia

24 May 2023

World Schizophrenia Day is an important day held on 24 May to create awareness and understanding of ...

Read More
Five ways to help manage symptoms of schizophrenia