HEAL­ING THE MIND

BUD­ERIM PRI­VATE HOS­PI­TAL OF­FERS SPE­CIALISED PTSD RE­COV­ERY PRO­GRAM

Life & Style Weekend - - MENTAL HEALTH WEEK FEATURE -

This Men­tal Health Week, a psy­chol­o­gist from Bud­erim Pri­vate Hos­pi­tal is ed­u­cat­ing com­mu­nity mem­bers on how to pick up the pieces from post-trau­matic stress disor­der and re­claim their lives. Berquin Hu­man, se­nior psy­chol­o­gist and pro­gram lead for the hos­pi­tal’s Trauma Re­cov­ery Pro­gram for PTSD, said he was proud to fea­ture in the most re­cent Care to Share video which ex­plained the symp­toms of PTSD and the treat­ments avail­able. Hos­pi­tal gen­eral man­ager Wal­lis West­brook said the hos­pi­tal’s Cooinda Men­tal Health Ser­vice was one of only a few or­gan­i­sa­tions na­tion-wide the De­part­ment of Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs had con­tracted to de­liver a trauma re­cov­ery pro­gram for our armed ser­vices vet­er­ans. “We un­der­stand there are around 13,000 vet­er­ans liv­ing right here on the Sunshine Coast and a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of these peo­ple are strug­gling with post-trau­matic stress, anx­i­ety, de­pres­sion and ad­dic­tion, many with­out much help,” Mr West­brook said. “Sadly, more vet­er­ans are dying each year by sui­cide than in com­bat sit­u­a­tions and this Men­tal Health Week we are hop­ing to raise aware­ness of PTSD and en­cour­age peo­ple to reach out for help and sup­port.” In the video, Mr Hu­man ex­plains PTSD is a men­tal health prob­lem that de­vel­ops af­ter a per­son has ex­pe­ri­enced a trau­matic event such as com­bat, a bush­fire, road traf­fic ac­ci­dent or sex­ual as­sault. “There are four main symp­tom groups of PTSD. The main symp­tom is re­liv­ing the trauma in the form of re­cur­rent and dis­turb­ing night­mares and flash­backs where they feel they are re-ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the event all over again. Un­der­stand­ably, this is very dis­tress­ing for peo­ple,” he said. “Many peo­ple also bat­tle with hy­per-arousal which re­sults in peo­ple feel­ing on edge, tense and more ir­ri­ta­ble than usual, and also prone to anger out­bursts which are usu­ally out of char­ac­ter. “An­other symp­tom is avoid­ance. Peo­ple go out of their way to avoid re­minders of the trau­matic event in­clud­ing the peo­ple, places and things that re­mind them of the trauma. “They may also avoid in­ter­nal re­minders, phys­i­cal sen­sa­tions or mem­o­ries of the event and this pre­vents the pro­cess­ing of the trau­matic mem­ory which keeps peo­ple stuck with the con­di­tion. “The last symp­tom is neg­a­tive be­liefs or emo­tions be­cause af­ter a trau­matic event, there is a sig­nif­i­cant shift in the way peo­ple think about them­selves and also in the way they think about other peo­ple. For ex­am­ple, they may have dif­fi­culty trust­ing peo­ple. “They also tend to have quite pessimistic views of the fu­ture. “Most peo­ple avoid talk­ing about PTSD to their GP or other men­tal health pro­fes­sional, and I would like to en­cour­age them to take that leap be­cause ef­fec­tive treat­ments are avail­able which could have a pro­foundly pos­i­tive im­pact on their life. “Treat­ment for PTSD usu­ally in­cludes a com­bi­na­tion of psy­cho­log­i­cal ther­apy and med­i­ca­tion. “Fol­low­ing treat­ment, the ma­jor­ity of peo­ple are able to re­claim their lives and have ex­pe­ri­enced sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments in over­com­ing their symp­toms and are bet­ter able to func­tion in the im­por­tant parts of their life, in­clud­ing at home, work and so­cially.” The hos­pi­tal launched the Trauma Re­cov­ery Pro­gram in Fe­bru­ary 2016 and is the only cen­tre to pro­vide this type of pro­gram north of Bris­bane and south of Townsville. More in­for­ma­tion about the pro­gram, in­clud­ing how to ac­cess it, is avail­able by vis­it­ing www.bud­er­im­pri­vate­hos­pi­tal.com.au/ trau­mare­cov­ery.

In­for­ma­tion pro­vided by Bud­erim Pri­vate Hos­pi­tal.

PHOTO: ROSS EASON

HELP IS AT HAND: Bud­erim Pri­vate Hospi­tall’s Men­tal Health Unit (above) and (inset) Berquin Hu­man, of the PTSD Trauma Re­cov­ery Pro­gram.

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