To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, Help for Heroes has released figures which show a significant increase in Veterans and families reaching out to its Hidden Wounds service for advice and support with their mental health this year. Compared to 2015, the average number of men and women getting in touch each month has increased by 109%.
So far in 2017, an average of 67 Veterans and family members are contacting Hidden Wounds every month. This compares to an average of 32 in 2015 and 41 in 2016.
This year has seen efforts across the sector to smash the stigma surrounding the issue of mental health, including a campaign by Help for Heroes in January around “Blue Monday”, and the Heads Together campaign making the Virgin Money London Marathon the ‘mental health marathon’ last month. These campaigns aim to empower those in need of support to take that difficult first step, by reaching out to an individual or organisation they trust. Veterans and family members are showing their strength and bravery by coming forward in rising numbers.
Head of Psychological Wellbeing at Help for Heroes, Dr Vanessa Moulton says: “Stigma has long held Service Personnel, Veterans and families back from accessing the support and guidance they need as they rebuild their lives. These statistics show that campaigns like Heads Together, and support from high profile individuals, can make a significant difference to people’s lives.
“Help for Heroes would like to thank Prince Harry, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and all those helping to break down stigma by empowering the Armed Forces Community to open up about their mental health, if and when people are struggling.”
Research published by King’s College London and Help for Heroes in January 2016 suggests that at least 66,090 Servicemen, women and Veterans need some form of health-related support now or in the years to come.
This figure equates to almost 1 in 11 men and women who served as Regulars in the British Armed Forces between 1991 and 2014.
Help for Heroes is a member of Contact, the military mental health coalition which is a charity partner of the Heads Together campaign.
Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds is a psychological wellbeing service offering free and confidential mental health support and guidance to Veterans and family members struggling with anxiety, depression, anger or alcohol.