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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

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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 (n¼1217) 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 inFWS and MHWTS datasets from perspective of family members were cross-tabulated. Help-seekingsupport 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.

  • Team/Investigators

    Dr Elaine Waddell (Flinders University), Pilar Rioseco (Australian Institute of Family Studies), Associate Professor Miranda Van Hooff (Military and Emergency Services and Health Australia (MESHA)), Dr Galina Daraganova (Australian Institute of Family Studies AIFS), Dr David Lawrence (The University of Western Australia), Wavne Rikkers (The University of Western Australia), Dr Louise Roberts (Flinders University), Tiffany Beks (University of Calgary), Tiffany Sharp (Flinders University), Ben Wadham (Flinders University), Professor Sharon Lawn (Flinders University)

  • Funding Body

    The Road Home–The Colonel Susan Neuhaus CSC (Ret’d) Fellowship

  • Expected Completion Date

    May 2022

  • Journal Title

    Journal of Mental Health

  • PMID


  • MeSH Terms

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

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