Our Practitioner Support Service team includes veteran mental health experts from a range of disciplines. Here, we introduce Jane Pool, Consultant Mental Health Social Worker to the Practitioner Support Service.
Jane Pool has spent 27 years working in the field of mental health and trauma. She began her career supporting children with developmental delays and later supported adolescents who developed a major mental illness, such as psychosis or major depression, and their families.
In 2000, her working life took another turn when she returned from Sydney to her home state of South Australia and joined the Vietnam Veterans Counselling Service (VVCS, now Open Arms).
“I was specifically employed to work with the children of Vietnam veterans because research by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs at the time indicated their sons and daughters were at higher risk of suicide than their cohort in the general population,” says Jane.
Jane was a counsellor, ran group programs and outreach programs, and was deputy director of the service. She says that even after years of working in the field, the veteran community constantly evolves and provides her with new learnings.
“During my time at VVCS I learned we had done a good job of putting resources into working with veterans, but we hadn’t done as well to educate partners and families about things like PTSD. Veterans tend to be quite knowledgeable, but we had not involved partners and families as much as we could have in the counselling process,” says Jane.
“I work in a family inclusive way. When I see a veteran, I check in with them about how they think their children are travelling, what their partner might think, and what challenges the family might be having. With more recent veterans, the research suggests their children are quite resilient because they move often and get good at developing relationships quickly, and they are good at disengaging quickly as well.”
While consulting to the Centenary of Anzac Centre, Jane also works in private practice in the Adelaide Hills with a mostly veteran client base. For those living with PTSD, she believes knowledge and education about PTSD and treatment options are key. Transparency about what is involved in treatment is also important to gain the trust of veterans.
“Traditionally, men are difficult to engage in counselling and most of our veterans are male. It’s always a highlight for me when someone commits to counselling and engages with it,” says Jane.
And the inroads Jane makes with the mental health of her clients – no matter how small – are always gratifying.
“It’s very rewarding to work with families where you can see a crack, and you help patch up that crack before it becomes a fracture. I feel privileged to be asked to enter someone’s life when things are not going well for them, to be part of their journey, and to see the positive impacts and changes happening in their life.”