Engaging Younger Aged Veterans And Their Families In Online Treatment And Social Support For Mood And Alcohol Use Problems

The mental health and well-being of serving and ex-serving Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel is of paramount importance, with a recent national audit indicating mental health disorders are a major cause of reduced quality of life for many members, with direct impacts on their families. The most common mental health concerns are depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, substance use, and suicide, with comorbidity between conditions common.

Competitive advantage

  • World-first automated online psychological program targeting low mood and alcohol use simultaneously
  • World-first moderated evidence-based social network app designed specifically to engage and support younger Veterans, encourage peer support between ex-service personnel, and encourage pro-social behaviour around better mental health and lower alcohol use
  • PhD research investigating the impact of living with a parent with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, alcohol use, and related issues in children/spouses in ADF and veteran families
  • PhD research to develop and test family-based interventions for ADF/ veteran families

Successful applications of research

  • This program of work expands on this important effort and supports the development of a second generation of applications and methods that integrate technology to encourage contemporary Veterans and their families to participate in programs that support their ongoing mental health and well being
  • World-first clinical trial (ongoing) comparing automated online psychological treatment (vSHADE) among young Veterans (aged 18-45 years) with vSHADE supported by app-based social networking support (BreathingSpace)


  • ASPEN Medical
  • Ironside Recruitment
  • Soldier On
  • Mates 4 Mates
  • Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling (Open Arms)
  • Department of Defence and Department of Veteran Affairs


  • This research has the potential to improve the health and well being of contemporary Veterans, encourage help-seeking for those who generally might not access mental health support, and for the integration of
  • e-mental health strategies in Veteran populations
  • This project is a critical first step in understanding how to expand online e-mental health treatments to encompass other conditions/concerns, and to extend to families of Veteran and current serving ADF personnel

Capabilities and facilities

  • Clinical and research team working together and uniquely skilled to ensure safety, security, and privacy for Veterans
  • Unique methods of engaging younger Veteran community
  • Unique methods and understandings to engage and respond to the unique needs of ADF and Veteran families
  • Purpose-built research and clinical platform from which to launch, monitor, and support evidence-based technological applications for mental health and substance use beyond depression and alcohol (e.g.: prescription opioids, crystal methamphetamine, tobacco, sleep, diet, exercise)

Further reading on: Human Factors

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.