Effect of center-based counseling for veterans and veterans’ families on long-term mental health outcomes
O’Donnell, M., Varker, T., Perry, D., & Phelps, A. (2013). Effect of center-based counseling for veterans and veterans’ families on long-term mental health outcomes. Military medicine, 178, 1328-1334.
Background: The Veterans and Veterans Families Counselling Service (VVCS), established by the Australian government, plays a pivotal role in providing mental health services to veterans and their families. This research explored the impact of centre-based psychological counselling on depression, anxiety, stress, and alcohol use severity.
Method: A stratified sample of VVCS clients was invited to participate in this study. Data were collected on intake to the program, at the fifth counselling session, and 12 months after the commencement of counselling. Repeated-measures general linear model analyses were conducted to examine the impact of centre-based counselling on depression, anxiety, stress, and alcohol severity over time.
Results: VVCS centre-based counselling resulted in a significant reduction in depression, anxiety, stress, and alcohol use severity after five sessions, and these improvements were maintained over the next 12 months. Despite these improvements, however, participants continued to report moderate-to-severe levels of mental health problems.
Conclusion: VVCS centre-based counselling successfully reduced depression, anxiety, stress, and alcohol use symptom severity of veterans and their families. However, the clinical profiles of this population are often complex and challenges remain in terms of addressing the mental health needs of this group.