Silver lining on mental health milestone at Greenslopes
Aug 27, 2019
A psychiatrist who founded a program at Greenslopes Private Hospital to help struggling veterans has celebrated 25 years as the hospital’s Mental Health Unit Director.
Dr John Gibson started his career at the hospital as an intern in 1981 and returned to the facility full-time after passing his specialist exam.
Dr Gibson said: “I have really spent my entire career at the hospital and I’m still here, so that is a pretty good indication that I’m enjoying it.”
He became director of the Keith Payne Unit in 1994 and co-founded the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) program.
It was one of the first of its kind in Australia, specifically designed to assist veterans experiencing military-related PTSD, which has now treated more than 700 participants.
“Since it started, I have run 128 groups through the program, and only missed one due to a stay in hospital,” Dr Gibson said.
Dr Gibson said when the program first started, a majority of participants were Vietnam veterans who didn’t feel welcome in the community. But as time went on, younger patients who had returned from East Timor and Afghanistan started filtering through as well.
“It was a really interesting time; the Vietnam veterans took on a nurturing role for the younger patients. It was as if they felt responsible for them and didn’t want them going through the same things they had,” Dr Gibson said.
The 10-week program is multi-disciplinary and built on addressing all issues associated with PTSD, including mental health, medication and relationship management, with elements of humour.
While Dr Gibson is the director, he receives support from allied health, nursing and administration staff, who have become a tight-knit group.
“Each week we have a journal club, where we discuss an academic paper and eat together; it brings us closer as a team and doubles as professional development. I’m very blessed with the people around me,” Dr Gibson said.
The unit is named after Victoria Cross recipient Keith Payne, who has played an active role in counselling sufferers of PTSD.