A common diagnosis was that Riley was unfit for the Defence Force. Some say that is a problem

Riley* was diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety disorder at the age of 14, but he never imagined it would affect his application to join the Australian Defence Force (ADF) as an adult.
After graduating, he successfully completed the job application process until he told a recruiting psychologist that he had suffered from mental health problems as a teenager.
As a result, Riley was declared unfit to join the police force, a decision he considers “extremely excessive” as he had already overcome his problems.
“Instead of deciding on a case-by-case basis which candidate is unsuitable or not, they automatically reject everyone [with a history of] “Mental health issues,” Riley said.

The ADF told The Feed that each applicant is assessed on their mental health and psychological suitability, and that a diagnosis of mental health issues does not automatically lead to rejection.

Riley’s application process took seven months and the lengthy process caused him “financial stress.”

“I never thought it would take this long to submit my application for the military, so I didn’t apply for other jobs,” he said.

A strict application process

Riley’s mental health issues are common in Australia. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, two in five Australians will experience anxiety in their lifetime, while almost a third of Australians aged 16 to 25 will experience anxiety in a year.
But some ADF candidates avoid sharing details about their mental health conditions, The Feed has learned from speaking to active members and candidates about their experiences during recruitment.
To join the ADF, applicants must select their top three job preferences, then attend a session to determine their suitability.
In addition, they must undergo a medical examination, an ADF interview and a psychological interview.

The latter is a reason for many applicants not to apply.

ADF Mental Health Standards Not ‘Fit for Purpose’

Some current and former members question how the ADF can address the recruitment crisis if it turns its back on a section of the population.
In February, ADF leader Angus Campbell told a parliamentary hearing that there was a .
A Defence spokesperson told The Feed that growing and retaining “a highly skilled defence workforce is an immediate priority for the Australian Government.”
“But with that in mind, it’s also important to prioritize the well-being of our staff.”
Robert Hoffmann is a professor of behavioural economics at the University of Tasmania and has published extensive research on ADF recruitment.
Hoffman believes the ADF’s mental health standards in recruitment are no longer ‘fit for purpose’.
“The mental health landscape has changed…regulations probably need to be re-examined now [that] “People have different mental health issues now than they used to,” he said.
Ben Wadham, a professor of sociology with a specialisation in defence and veteran studies at Flinders University, says mental health problems do not necessarily make people more vulnerable.

“Our research shows that people who have faced such challenges can become more resilient,” Wadham said.

Destroyed buildings and rubble in the ground.

Researcher Robert Hoffmann says young people are more concerned about the tragedy of war because raw images are easily available online. Source: MONKEY / Hassan Ammar/AP

Hoffmann added that for the first time in history, young people now have access to footage and media of combat on the ground via social media, which can lead to increased stress and anxiety among applicants.

“These guys are now going into the military and are probably a little concerned about the impact of their service on their mental health.”
Clinical psychologist Danielle Einstein told The Feed via email that anxiety is generally more “feared” in the community.
“However, it is difficult to say whether concerns about fear have led to a decline in military recruitment among Gen Z, or whether the decline is the result of a change in Gen Z values ​​via social media,” Einstein said.
The ADF told The Feed that the medical and psychological standards it uses are “in line with best global practice”.

“ADF candidates with a history of mental health or psychological problems are required to disclose their medical history during the application process for functional assessment. However, a self-identified mental health problem, a formal diagnosis or an undiagnosed history of mental health problems are not automatic grounds for exclusion,” a statement said.

According to the ADF, psychologists have a duty of care to ensure that candidates who are ‘identified as high risk to service do not enter service, in the interests of that person’s welfare and well-being’.

It added that the police are “making significant investments to increase the volume and velocity of candidates into the recruitment pipeline and improve the overall ADF candidate experience”.

These guys who join the military are probably a little scared of what their service will be like.

Professor Robert Hoffman

‘Leaving quality children behind’

Drew*, in his 30s, served in the ADF for four years and said that, based on his experience, he believes the ADF has “a blanket disqualification for the incredibly broad spectrum [that] ranges from people who are not really suited for the service, or people who have had a difficult time”.
The ADF has indicated that it does not apply general exclusions.

According to Drew, a test that measures how recruits deal with stressful situations could provide a solution.

“We need to expand our military, but we are leaving behind good children who are eager to serve.”
“That same boy would just be in the nineties [labelled] “A handful,” Drew said.
John*, 28, who joined the ADF this year, says applicants can face barriers because they have to disclose mental or physical health issues, which can cause some to withhold personal information.

“If you really want this job, sometimes you don’t want to bring up little conditions because it will only create more obstacles during the application process,” says John.

Several armored vehicles in a row.

From January 2025, the ADF will open its doors to New Zealand permanent residents and eventually British, American and Canadian citizens who have passed security checks. Source: MONKEY / CPL Brodie Cross/AP

When the ADF declared Riley permanently unfit, he had to appeal the decision, further delaying his trial.

“I had to get medical documents and specialist reports, which took time, money and effort. It put a huge mental strain on me,” he said.

Some members told The Feed they had to wait years, while others were admitted within months.

What can the ADF do to appeal to young people?

The 2024 National Defense Strategy includes a plan to “expand mental health and suicide prevention programs” and “streamline” the recruitment system to include a wider pool of applicants.
According to Hoffmann, the ADF must make itself attractive and accessible.
According to him, recruitment advertisements abroad, such as in Germany, make the army appear ‘sexy’ to young people.

“They’re very funky and exciting, and they really appeal to young people… You just have to appeal to a younger audience.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese points into the distance as he stands next to Australian Defence Force Commander Angus Campbell.

In April, the federal government launched the National Defense Strategy, which will “expand mental health and suicide prevention programs.” Source: MONKEY / Lucas Coch

If the ADF — the impact of this on recruitment figures will be examined.

For some people, the ADF can even be a lifesaver, Hoffmann said.
“Recruiters aren’t looking for a job, they’re looking for a calling. They’re really looking for a place to express themselves, to have a mission — to have a purpose in life.”
*To protect their identities, the names of all interviewees for this story have been changed.
Readers seeking support regarding their mental health can contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. Further information is available at .
supports people with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *