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January 2014 Newsletter
 

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January 2014 Newsletter
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Operation Life Online - New online suicide prevention tool

DVA has released a new Operation Life Online suicide prevention website – to give families support and information to help those at risk of self-harm.

The reality of suicidal behaviour can be very challenging and alarming for the individual family and friends of those at risk of suicide. This reality is one of the drivers for DVA’s new Operation Life Online suicide prevention website – to give families support and information.

Even when those at risk of self-harm are in treatment, families can play an important role in keeping them safe. The site is useful in teaching families how they can support someone to take positive steps to make changes in their life to protect against suicide.

The site explores some of the protective factors that can help to reduce the risk of suicide, including:

  • Significant others
  • Staying connected to community
  • Personal and environmental factors
  • Physical and mental health
  • Financial security
  • Spirituality and belief

With a large range of websites available, it is important for health professionals to know they are referring their clients to a credible source. DVA developed Operation Life Online in partnership with OzHelp, an organisation with a focus on suicide prevention in industry workplaces. Consultation for the development of Operation Life Online was undertaken with mental health professionals treating veterans.

Operation Life Online complements the face to face Operation Life suicide prevention workshops offered by the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service.

Operation Life Online expands access to information and support, particularly when clinicians are not available.

For more information please visit Operation Life Online

 

New ASD and PTSD Guidelines Released

The Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH) has updated the ‘Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)’.

In 2013 the Australian Centre for Posttraumatic Mental Health (ACPMH) has updated the Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder (ASD) and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). ACPMH developed the Guidelines in consultation with trauma experts and people affected by trauma.

The Guidelines aim to support high quality treatment of people with ASD and PTSD by providing a framework of best practice around which to structure treatment.

The Guidelines and resources for practitioners and community members are available here: http://guidelines.acpmh.unimelb.edu.au.

 

PTSD App Instructional Video

The use of new technology in mental health treatment offers the opportunity to enhance outcomes, reduce barriers and allow for easier access to support. Dr Liam Connor, a clinical psychologist with the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service, recommends the PTSD Coach Australia mobile application for patients with trauma-related issues.

In a new YouTube video, Dr Liam Connor, a clinical psychologist with the Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service, discusses the PTSD Coach Australia mobile application (app), highlighting areas of importance and utility from a clinician’s perspective.

The PTSD Coach Australia app was developed in order to help serving and ex-serving military personnel target symptoms in real time, then with the assistance of a health professional, use specific interventions to manage these symptoms. The app is based on evidence-based treatment as recommended in the 2007 Australian Guidelines for the Treatment of Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, which were updated in 2013.

Why an app?

A mobile app can be used privately and anonymously. Mobile devices are always on, accessible and available when needed most. They can offer support when clinicians are not available. These can be personalised and features, such as multi-media presentations, game-based learning and location-based services, can enhance the user experience. Younger people particularly have an expectation of digital access and flexibility.

How does the app work in treatment?

Mental health practitioners are using PTSD Coach Australia in conjunction with traditional treatment for trauma. They use the app to record real time assessments based on the Post Traumatic Disorder Check List  and provide necessary skills training, including basic psychoeducation. Subsyndromal problems and intermittent symptoms can also be addressed. Patients can receive reminders to attend appointments, rehearse skills and coping behaviours, or self-assess between sessions.

What can you do?

As a health professional treating serving or ex serving personnel for PTSD, you can:

  • Watch the video of Dr Liam Connor discussing the app and how he uses it with his patients.
  • Download the app and become familiar with its functionality. The app is free from the App Store for Apple devices and Google Play for android devices.
  • Recommend it to your patients where clinically appropriate.
  • Provide DVA feedback on the app, how you use it with your patients, and how it can be improved. Email us at at-ease@dva.gov.au

Note: Some features of this app may not be accessible on earlier model iOS and Android phones.

 

ON TRACK with The Right Mix App

The ON TRACK with the Right Mix phone app has received positive feedback from health clinicians and based on their feedback, improvements have been made.

The ON TRACK with The Right Mix phone app allows users to track their drinking habits, set a budget for a session, learn about the effect that alcohol has on their wellbeing and fitness, and how much exercise is needed to burn off the alcohol kilojoules consumed. Settings can be personalised according to gender, age, height and weight.

On TRACK was designed to help young serving and ex-serving military personnel to learn how to manage their drinking before it becomes a problem, but many clinicians have been using the app in treatment.  Feedback from clinicians has helped to inform some improvements to the app.

The update expands functionality to allow the user to:

  • graph the data collected so the user can visually learn about the impact their drinking behaviour is having over a period of time. Users can graph their      wellbeing score, number of standard drinks, spending and exercise required;
  • send data for a specific time period to a health clinician;
  • more easily track their drinking with a new ‘Recent Drinks’ option on the Track screen;
  • add drinks retrospectively on the Trail screen – if users stop using the app while out or don’t want to use the app while out, they can enter their consumption and spending retrospectively; and,
  • complete an online survey to provide feedback to DVA about the app.

If you are a health professional treating serving or ex-serving personnel for alcohol-related issues, or think it may help a patient to monitor their drinking, you might like to download the app and become familiar with its features. It is available free from the App Store for iOS devices and Google Play for android devices.

Note: Some features of this app may not be accessible on earlier model iOS and Android phones.

 

Planning your Continuing Professional Development for 2014? Keep DVA’s free online courses in mind?

DVA offers health professionals free online training developed in partnership with clinical experts and offering a unique perspective to achieve improved health outcomes for veterans.

DVA currently has three elearning courses available which you can access through www.at-ease.dva.gov.au/professionals:

  • vetAWARE (Assist Wisely and Refer Effectively): An online training program to assist community nurses to better understand the common mental health challenges faced by veterans and war widows, identify symptoms and refer appropriately.  The course is endorsed by the Royal College of Nursing Australia.  On completion, points are awarded towards professional development requirements.  Go to dva.interactiontraining.net/registerexternal/ and enter the registration code ‘ext’.
  • Understanding the Military Experience: This two hour program helps providers better understand how military service can affect the mental health of serving and ex-serving personnel.  The course covers Australia's military history, recent deployment tempo, common mental health conditions, the changing veteran demographic and DVA arrangements and expectations. This is an excellent course for providers new to treating veterans from contemporary deployments. Go to dva.interactiontraining.net/registerexternal/ and enter the registration code ‘ext’.

For each course you will receive a certificate of completion detailing the hours taken. You may be able accrue Continuing Professional Development (CPD) hours by participating in activities that your professional association determine to be relevant to your individual professional skills, learning plans and goals.

Coming in 2014 will be two new training courses: Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Case Formulation and Treatment Planning. If you would like to be informed about these courses once they are released, please subscribe to this mailing list or recommend this mailing list to other colleagues.

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