Everyone wants to be happy but achieving that personal ambition is not as easy as just wanting it to happen. Pressures in life impact on our feelings of wellbeing, sometimes considerably, leading potentially to severe emotional problems.
In the Defence family context, it seems that frequent transfers, as is the case in any military organization, affect a family’s feelings of wellbeing and happiness.
But looking deeper reveals that the overriding factor in achieving positive family outcomes is the family’s perception of the move and how well the family has integrated in the new location. The family’s sense of belonging and successful integration into the new community has been found to be a strong predictor of positive family outcomes.
A number of studies show that children of military couples actually enjoy a number of benefits from moving around, especially in the development of social skills and confidence in different situations – along with a broader education experience.
For children, a sense of wellbeing and happiness in the new location is very much dependent upon the parents’ behaviour and perception of what’s going on.
A number of programs exist to help people improve their situation. For example, some hospitals run programs developed for the Department of Veterans Affairs, aimed at people who perceive that their life is not all they want it to be.
Other challenges relate to ‘where to go from here’ after being in an institution such as the Defence Forces for a long time, which can lead to a quite stressful situation.
However, the problem with emotional stress is that it doesn’t really go away, and it’s better to work through those issues with a professional counsellor.
Heathy Body + Healthy Mind
The World Health Organisation defines good health as ‘a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. Accordingly, Defence acknowledges that the mental and social areas of our lives are just as important as our physical bodies.
The Australian Defence Force Mental Health Strategy seeks to reinforce the concept of ‘well being’ in life for members and their families. It recognises that mental health is not just related to diagnosable mental disorders, but covers a broad range of lifestyle, mental wellbeing and job performance factors.
The strategy has a primary focus on prevention and evidence-based treatment to maximise retention and enhance the quality of life for Defence personnel. This strategy involves an educational campaign for ADF personnel and early intervention and preventative strategies for the ADF. It promotes programs that improve self-esteem, encourage a positive outlook and a feeling of acceptance and belonging. For further information visit the ADF Mental Health Strategy website, which contains various resources, fact sheets and mental health contacts.
For confidential advice, call the All Hours Support Line: 1800 628 036 (FREECALL within Australia) defence.gov.au/health