Families’ experiences of supporting Australian veterans to seek help for a mental health problem: a linked data analysis of national surveys with families and veterans

Elaine Waddell, Pilar Rioseco, Miranda Van Hooff, Galina Daraganova, David Lawrence, Wavne Rikkers, Louise Roberts, Tiffany Beks, Tiffany Sharp, Ben Wadham, Sharon Lawn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Families play a critical role in supporting currently serving and transitioned veterans’ wellbeing and help-seeking for mental health concerns; however, little is known about families’ experiences. 

Aims: This study used Australian national survey linked-data (n = 1217) from families (Family Wellbeing Study-FWS) and veterans (Mental Health Wellbeing Transition Study-MHWTS) to understand veteran-family help-seeking relationships. 

Methods: Veterans’ and family members’ responses to mental health and help-seeking questions in FWS and MHWTS datasets from perspective of family members were cross-tabulated. Help-seeking support provided by family members was compared by veterans’ probable disorder. 

Results: Results highlighted high levels of involvement and continuous assistance provided by families. Two in three family members thought the veteran had probable mental health concerns although they have never been diagnosed or treated. Clear disparities between family and veteran perspectives regarding mental health concerns indicates the extent of non-treatment seeking in this population, missed opportunities for early intervention, and need for greater support to families to promote help-seeking. 

Conclusions: Encouraging help-seeking is complex for veteran families particularly where veterans’ reluctance to seek help may lead to family relationship strain and conflict. Families need early information, support, and recognition by service agencies of the role of the family in encouraging help-seeking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)899-909
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Volume32
Issue number5
Early online date6 Mar 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Families
  • help-seeking
  • mental health
  • quantitative
  • veterans

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