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Increase in number of forces veterans seeking mental health support

Tuesday 16th May 2017
More ex-forces members are seeking professional mental health support in the UK, new statistics show. Image: JOHNGOMEXPIX via iStock
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A growing number of UK forces veterans are seeking professional mental health support as a result of increased conversations around the subject, according to a new report.

Last month, Prince Harry, who is himself a former soldier, revealed that he had sought professional counselling following a 20-year struggle to come to terms with the death of his mother, the late Princess Diana, when he was aged just 12.

Together with his brother Prince William and his sister-in-law the Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry has been raising awareness of mental health charity Heads Together, alongside continuing his ongoing work with Help for Heroes.

To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, which took place across the UK last week, Help for Heroes published new data that shows the number of ex-forces members seeking support for mental health issues is on the rise, indicating that some of the stigma that formerly surrounded the subject has been dissolved.

Help for Heroes has a service called Hidden Wounds that is designed to provide this kind of support, with the latest statistics showing that an average of 67 forces veterans and their family members currently contact the team each month.

This marks an increase of more than double from just two years ago, when 32 veterans contacted the helpline each month on average. This then rose to 41 a month in 2016, indicating that much of the rise has been recent, coinciding with increased media coverage and discussions around mental health and the support that is available.

In fact, clear spikes in the number of people seeking help were seen directly after Prince Harry spoke out and also during January, when more conversations on mental health were taking place to coincide with 'Blue Monday'.

Dr Vanessa Moulton, head of psychological wellbeing at Help for Heroes, commented: "Stigma has long held service personnel, veterans and families back from accessing the support and guidance they need as they rebuild their lives.

"The statistics show that campaigns like Heads Together, and support from high-profile individuals, can make a significant difference to people's lives."

Written by Angela Newbury

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