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Mental Health of Australian Soldiers

From ABC Online, May 19, 2017

Life in the army could be very tough. To perform their duties, soldiers always have to endure incredible pressures that civilians could barely experience. For instance, they often must endure months or years away from their family and friends, and may often experience tragedies such as the death of a fellow comrade, a serious injury during training, and etc. All these horrible experiences could cause soldiers to suffer from mental illness such as disorder or depression. As such, the mental health of soldiers has long been a critical concern in the army.

Recently, following the sad and tragic suicide of a young soldier from the 5th battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment's (5RAR), a lot of media attention has been paid to the mental illness of soldiers in the Australian Army as well as the factors that are making the already terrible situation even worse.

In one of those related articles, which was posted on ABC Online on May 19, 2017, Eleni Roussos revealed many shocking problems that could be very damaging to the mental health of Australian soldiers and to the effective functioning of the army. As was revealed in this article, a lot of soldiers who are struggling with depression are reluctant or hesitate to talk about their problems or seek help from others, as doing so may render them being denounced or punished by other soldiers. What’s even worse is that it’s common for soldiers to be ridiculed if they are under-performing, which could cause more soldiers to suffer badly from mental illness.

From a work design perspective, many of the revealed ugly facts in the army could be identified as or be attributed to some problems such as lack of social support and organizational support, low levels of psychological safety (which may explain why soldiers don’t speak up), lack of interpersonal trust, violation of workplace ethics, less or no attention to health and well-being, and so forth. The existence of these problems suggests that the army should carefully review the work conducted by soldiers, identify the aspects of work that should be changed, and redesign the work to protect the well-being of soldiers and to promote the army's effective functioning.

For more details, click here to read the article.

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