Meet Xena, our newest psychiatric assistance dog

The program is available to eligible veterans who are coping with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). An assistance dog can play a big part in helping a veteran manage their mental health and wellbeing.

The program is proving to be very popular with the Department receiving many requests from veterans seeking a psychiatric assistance dog to support their mental health treatment plan since its announcement in September 2019.

Psychiatric assistance dogs are specially trained to perform tasks that contribute to the clinical recovery goals of their veteran handler, including detecting signs of distress and performing specific tasks to help alleviate those symptoms.

Xena is the first South Australian psychiatric assistance dog handed over from one of our new approved providers, the Royal Society of the Blind.

Xena’s veteran handler has nothing but praise for the change she has brought to his life.

“Xena has been just wonderful for me. She has made me feel calmer, more settled, and my housemates have already commented on the changes in me. 

“I just feel more grounded, and less anxious with her by my side.” 

“When I go to university, she has made me feel more comfortable as a part of a crowd, and better able to engage with my fellow students.”

The Department wants to ensure the program is providing the best support it can to veterans and their families. Participating veterans are encouraged to take part in evaluation to understand the benefits experienced by veterans living with complex mental health conditions so the program can continue to evolve and adapt to the changing needs of the veteran community.

Veterans currently accessing treatment for PTSD may wish to speak to their mental health professional to see if a psychiatric assistance dog is suitable for them, visit the DVA Psychiatric Assistance Dog program webpage for more information.