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Joining the ADF with previous Anxiety and depression

Community Member


I'm 16 years old and i'm considering joining the RAAF when I turn 18 (year 12) and applying to be a CISCON (which is a non-combat role) however 4 years ago I attempted suicide (only ever once) and later was diagnosed with anxiety (due to an abusive father) and am now taking medication. my anxiety has been minimal for the past 2 years but sometimes arises (not frequently though - rarely) I have seen medical professionals such as psychologists to help manage my anxiety and stress and I am still currently getting support from professionals and hope to manage my anxiety without medication within the next twelve months leaving another twelve months free from medication before applying for defence. I was wondering if anyone has some advice or insight about my chances, what I should do and any other information.


9 Replies 9

Community Champion
Community Champion


I don't think that I will really be able to answer your question. It seems a bit touch and go from what I have read after doing a google search for

joining adf with history of anxiety

With that said, you can only do your best and try. Or contact the ADF and see what they say. The best option might be to find a local recruiting station and someone to talk to about anxiety/depression and your desired career?

Also worth remembering that all (?) defense jobs can be stressful.


Community Member
Hi hun. Don't give up on your dream job. I am so sorry to read this and your abusive Dad! and so sorry to read you tried suicide but so happy you are seeing a psychologist. thats not true its stressful all jobs in the ADF. My son also wants to join the ADF and he has had anxiety and depression. He has been accepted and in a non combat job. So pleaaaaaaaaase don't give up on your dream job. It would be brilliant. they say if you love a job you will never work a day in your life. Go for it I say. and be happy follow those dreams. sending much love from a mum of a son similar to you and also from one who also suffers depression.

do you know where my reply went please i have posted twice? to Aviator. R you a moderator?

Community Champion
Community Champion
I am not a moderator. Sorry. (Have you received any email replies to your post?)

I don't mean to come across as rude or anything and I respect you and your sons privacy to not answer. I was wondering how did he manage what did he do and how did the ADF go about accepting him and what did he tell DFR (not trying to sound down about just trying to find out what happened)

Thank you for your support and comment.

Community Member
Hi Aviator205,

Firstly, thank you for posting this. I am sure there are plenty of people that will come to read this post with similar questions to you, and I know that it wouldn’t have been easy to write this.; so for them, thank you. The following points I will convey are derived from my 12 years’ service in the Australian Military, multiply overseas deployments, and hundreds of soldiers, seaman and air-men and women’s welfare managed under my command. 

I would like to begin by saying that regardless of role, trade or Service, any position you wish you enlist or be appointed to in the military is fraught with minimal luxuries and hardships aplenty. As one of my favourite quotes reads ‘it must be remembered that the oath to serve our country as a soldier does not include a contract for the normal luxuries and comforts enjoyed by our society. On the contrary, it implies hardship, loyalty and devotion to duty regardless of rank. The act of sacrifice is ‘an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy’. Despite this being aimed towards Army, throughout my various postings and deployments I worked side by side with members from all services, as we endured similar struggles of Service life.

That being said, I would ask you to initially question if this is the right time in your life for military service? I’m certainly not saying give up on your dreams, quite the contrary. I implore everyone to experience what it takes to develop yourself into someone fit to defend our country’s interests, and I wholeheartedly believe it makes them better members of the civilian workforce once they choose to move on. I also applaud your commitment to forecast your military intentions this far out and develop an action plan to assist you in your endeavours, as this quality alone is highly regarded in Defence and would put you in good stead to excel in any role you chose to pursue. My only reservation would be that you may be rushing into this, in turn putting unnecessary pressure on yourself to perform and succeed. During my time I have found that personnel with a few years’ experience within the civilian employment market post-secondary schooling make far better Defence members, only due to the skills you can’t generally obtain at school; such as initiative, integrity, adaptability, courage, compassion, respect, and teamwork. I ask that you consider if rushing into this is the best option for you, and if you might not be better placed having a few years of adult work behind you in order to succeed without the potential chance of relapse.

Although if you do chose to pursue your original course of action, you have two choices; provide complete transparency and allow DFR to decide whether you are fit for military service, or not disclose your past and continue to self-manage – if successful. Throughout my experience, I have found that people that choose the latter option eventually experience a relapse during their service, plagued with the feelings of inadequacy and burden on their colleagues, as they try and mask their issues bubbling below the surface. Military service removes you from you comfort-zone, support network, and familiar surroundings. The training is arduous, postings are frequent and remote, and deployments are riddled with uncertainty and perilous risk. If and when you choose to commit to this, I wish you to do so when you are ready and with your eyes fully open.  
I wish you the sincerest of fortune with your career endeavours, and on your journey back to good mental health and wellbeing.
All the best.

Community Member

hey all

I'm 25 years old I have recently applied to join the adf.

I went through some counselling for roughly 10 months all together with the first 3 being mostly about self esteem issues and anxiety and the remaining 7 months (with a 9 month break in between said months) being mostly troubled with drug use and paranoid thoughts eg. intrusive thoughts, people telling lies. drug use has been mainly weed and one LSD experience. I also have family relations that suffer from psychosis. it has been 2 and a half years since I have been to counselling and overall I feel great about my wellbeing and experience gained in this time. I left counselling without proper termination. any information on this matter will greatly appreciated.

thank you.

Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi all,

I was just looking to revive this thread. Does anyone know or have any experience of having taken prescribed medication (please don't be specific) for mental health before or during service with the ADF?



Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Bob

Service in the ADF is not easy, it is a rigorous and stressful environment (even if not in a combat situation). As a result the recruitment process needs to establish that a person is able to withstand these pressures long-term. Both physical and mental conditions are evaluated.

Therefore any applicant must disclose any formally diagnosed mental health condition and give history. There are a lot of factors involved in making a decision, some being the time since occurrence, severity and so forth.

To quote the ADF FAQ at


"Past psychological symptoms, treatment and diagnosis are individualised
as well taking the specific diagnosis, the treatment received, the
response to treatment and the current situation and functionality into
consideration. There is not a one answer for all as the outcome is
individualized once again based on the information and job preference"

My suggestion is firstly to consider if such a life might be suitable, depending on the condition involved, and if a person decides to go ahead contact the recruitment center and talk the matter over


As for contracting an illness whilst in service there are many instances when this occurs, and again each is individually assessed before appropriate action is taken.