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Veterans with mental health issues being trained as peer supporters for other veterans -

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MARK COLVIN: An Army psychiatrist in Hobart is training veterans in how to support their fellow veterans who have mental health problems such as PTSD.

He's teaching veterans how to regulate their own emotions with eventual aim of getting them to run group therapy and offer peer counselling. The idea is that it'll get treatment out to more veterans because they're more likely to accept support from others who've experienced something similar.

Felicity Ogilvie reports from Hobart.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Dr Jon Lane went to Afghanistan in 2013, where he worked as a psychiatrist with soldiers from the United States.

Now, in what he says is an Australian first, he is using a program developed in the US to train veterans in how to treat the mental health issues of their peers.

JON LANE: That means that hopefully we won't get marriage breakdowns, people won't lose their jobs, people won't resort to drinking and various other drugs to try and control themselves or deal with their issues.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Ten people are taking part in the training.

Michaela Gilewicz has had her own mental health issues since leaving the Australian Defence Force Academy.

MICHAELA GILEWICZ: We don't talk about the actual traumas that we went through but how we've dealt with them and so we've all experienced different things but those experiences relate to how we react now. And so learning how to deal with those and learning how to deal with emotions and things that we're not used to.

FELICITY OGILVIE: The concept is that the veterans will model recovery to other veterans.

Gary Myors is a Vietnam veteran who hopes to become a peer supporter.

GARY MYORS: Probably less threatening environment, somebody that they can talk at the same level with, somebody who understands their peace of mind rather than, you know I'm not saying they're all like that, but I have experienced it myself, DVA sent me to see a second psychiatrist because they didn't like what the first one said. And he was, his bedside manner left something to be desired.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Damian Fitzallen has only recently left the army.

DAMIAN FITZALLEN: As a medic during my career, I helped people. I helped a lot of people with a lot of different things and for me this is a way to find a goal that I can invest in that will allow me to continue to help soldiers.

FELICITY OGILVIE: Dr Jon Lane says the concept of training veterans has come from the difficulties Australian veterans can have in finding a Psychiatrist who understands them.

JON LANE: There would be less than 10 that have any military, like serving military experience and that's a fundamental thing for veterans in order to be able to relate to their treating psychiatrists.

And I think that's the biggest shame you know about the whole process and why Australia has probably struggled with veterans' mental health and that's just because of you know the lack of professionals with significant occupational and clinical experience in the actual area itself.

FELICITY OGILVIE: A woman who only wants to be known by her first name - Amelia - saw several psychiatrists before being treated by Dr Lane.

AMELIA: It's very hard to explain to anyone who has never been in the military what that environment is like and then trying to get them to understand how it works and where some of our attitudes are formed, it is very hard to get it across. Finding Jon has been an absolute miracle, it really has. He's fantastic.

FELICITY OGILVIE: A 2010 study by the Australian Defence Force found that one in five of their members had experienced a mental health condition in the previous year.

MARK COLVIN: Felicity Ogilvie.