Treating a veteran in crisis

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Information to assist health providers when treating a veteran or family member in crisis.

If you're a member of the veteran community, go to Get urgent help and support.

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Who your patient can call

If a veteran or family member is in immediate danger call triple zero (000).

If they are in crisis and need to talk to someone, they can also call Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling on 1800 011 046 – 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Organisations who can help

There are also a range of other specialist organisations who can support your veteran patient through times of crisis. You can print off this sheet and give it to your patient so they can call any of the organisations on the list when needed.

Useful contacts for veterans and their families in crisis (PDF 207 KB)

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DVA funded mental health support

If you assess that your veteran or veteran family patients need further mental health services or support, you can let them know about the following DVA support programs. If necessary, you can refer them directly.

Free mental health care

Under DVA’s Non-Liability Health Care (mental health) arrangements, we may cover the cost for Veteran Card holders to receive treatment for mental health conditions, including acute hospital admissions.

We have contracts with private hospitals to provide mental health services to veterans. You can find the list of our private hospitals at Private hospitals and private mental health hospitals.

You can go to Cover for mental health care to find out who is eligible and how to refer them.

Drug and alcohol support

We have arrangements with contracted hospitals to provide inpatient alcohol and other drug rehabilitation services. You can go to Help for alcohol and drug problems to find out what we offer veterans.

You can also go to Delivering hospital based care to find out how you can refer your veteran patients to these programs.

Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling

We offer a range of free support services for your veteran and veteran family patients in crisis such as:

  • counselling
  • support for family and domestic violence issues
  • peer support
  • group programs.

Go to Open Arms to find out more.

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Other DVA support

Encourage your veteran or veteran family patients to contact us as we may be able to provide them with additional support. This includes to:

  • check if they are receiving all DVA payments they are eligible for, such as a crisis payment
  • offer case management and services for families experiencing challenging life circumstances
  • put them in touch with ex-service organisations in their area
  • connect them with homelessness services in their state or territory if needed.

They can call us on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372) between 8 am and 5 pm, Monday to Friday. Or you can call on their behalf.

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Risk factors

A veteran may be at risk of experiencing crisis around the time of transitioning from the Australian Defence Force (ADF). They may also be vulnerable if transitioning from incarceration, in-patient care and treatment, or into aged care.

Your patient may be at risk of being in crisis if they’re experiencing:

  • mental health issues including depression and anxiety
  • drug and alcohol dependence
  • physical incapacity and/or persistent pain
  • unsafe or unstable housing
  • family conflicts and family break downs
  • sudden significant change such as loss of employment or death in the family
  • exposure to adverse events
  • financial instability
  • isolation and/or loneliness
  • heightened arousal including due to PTSD
  • problematic anger and aggression
  • suicide ideation
  • involvement with the criminal justice system
  • possession of weapons or firearms*.

*For information on firearm reporting obligations for health professionals, visit your state or territory’s police website.

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Safety and protective factors

You may consider discussing the points below with your patient to help keep them safe and improve their general wellbeing.
A veteran or family member is more likely to avoid crisis if they: 

  • stay connected to community, family and friends
  • stay physically and mentally active and engaged
  • are in safe and stable housing
  • are responsible for others
  • experience meaningful participation in work, leisure or community groups
  • have financial security
  • seek professional support when needed, such as counselling and/or medical care
  • have control of their life and future outcomes
  • have physical and mental health considerations addressed
  • feel a sense of contribution 
  • feel connected to their values and beliefs.
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Useful DVA webpages

You may find the following webpages helpful when you have a veteran patient in crisis.

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