Advocating for Defence families

Making the decision to call Open Arms

We spoke with Andony Chambers recently, one of the state Directors at Open Arms.

We wanted to know some of the ways ADF partners and members can reach out for help with their mental health.

Open Arms provides mental health and wellbeing support for current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force personnel and their families.

What is the first thing to do when I think I might need help with my mental health?

Talking with your GP is a great starting point. I’d also recommend talking to a trusted friend or family member to let them know what’s going on. 

Open Arms provides free and confidential counselling to anyone who has served at least one day in the ADF, and their families.

You can call us 24/7 on 1800 011 046. 

Most people contact us because they notice they are feeling more stressed, sad, anxious, or angry than usual. They might also notice that they are not sleeping well or their relationship is not where they’d like it to be. People contact us for a whole range of reasons. 

Supporting the transition to civilian life is something we can also help with.   

Our focus is on wellbeing and recovery. While we definitely facilitate treatment and support for mental health concerns we also provide counselling support for life events that might impact on wellbeing.   

Who answers the phone at Open Arms? Is it available 24/7?

When you call Open Arms you will initially speak to our Clinical Support Team. They will take down a few important details like your name and contact number. If you don’t want to provide your details you can ask to remain anonymous. You will then be put through to a Counsellor to discuss which Open Arms service would be best for you. 

You don’t have to call just to book or request counselling, you might initially just want to call for some advice, especially during the current COVID crisis.  There are clinicians available to provide support 24/7.

Is the counselling done over the phone?

Counselling can be done over the phone, online via video chat, or face to face. It depends what works best for the client. 

Is it confidential? 

Open Arms takes confidentiality and privacy very seriously. If you have any questions about confidentiality please ask your counsellor and there is also detailed information on the Open Arms website.

Can I have face to face counselling?

Face to face counselling is our most popular option. We also provide telephone and online video counselling. It’s your choice.  

Is this the same all over Australia?

We have Open Arms Counsellors throughout Australia. Our Counsellors are experienced in working with the Veteran Community. There are some remote or rural areas of Australia where face to face counselling isn’t always available. In these instances we provide Phone or Video counselling.  

How much does it cost?

Open Arms is a free service for Veterans and their families. 

How many sessions can I have?

There’s no set limit. Numbers of sessions depends on the needs of each client. 

Can I speak with the same counsellor? 

Where you require individual, couples, or family counselling you will be referred to an Open Arms Counsellor for ongoing sessions. You can request to see an Open Arms counsellor you have seen in the past.

Or you can request to see a different counsellor. If you are calling for crisis support and your regular counsellor is not available you’ll be referred to another counsellor on shift for immediate support. Open Arms is a 24/7 service.

Is this available for children in Defence families?

Yes, children are eligible for Open Arms services. For children 5-15 we typically work with the child as part of family counselling, however in some instances based on need and local resources individual counselling might be offered.

For adolescent children 15-17 we can offer individual or family counselling depending on the maturity of the child and parental consent.

If you have concerns about your children it’s best to give us a call to discuss the best pathway.

What other services does Open Arms offer?

Open Arms offers a great range of services. Take a look at our website for a full explanation of our services

Our services include:

counselling for individuals,

couples and families,

care coordination for clients with more complex needs,

after-hours telephone counselling,

suicide prevention training,

Community and Peer advisors,

group programs to develop skills and enhance support,

mental health literacy and awareness training,

and information, education and self-help resources on our “Living Well” website at Open

You can contact Open Arms 24/7 on 1800 011 046 if you have any queries or visit their website

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