Tak­ing men­tal health se­ri­ously

Cynon Valley - - YOUR VIEWS -

RE­CENTLY the coun­try ral­lied be­hind the brave ex-ser­vice men and women as they once again rep­re­sented our coun­try and bat­tled for Gold at the In­vic­tus Games in Toronto.

It has been great to see our vet­er­ans get­ting the at­ten­tion they de­serve and shin­ing a light on some of the is­sues they have faced since leav­ing the mil­i­tary.

If there is one is­sue that stood out to me at this year’s Games, it was men­tal health. I was so im­pressed by the num­ber of ath­letes suf­fer­ing from PTSD who stepped up and were will­ing to share their sto­ries, which has not al­ways been the case. Peo­ple like Matt Neve,

pic­tured, a 32-year-old ex-RAF driver from Wales, who talked about how sport helped his re­cov­ery and gave him a re­lease from men­tal health is­sues he has en­dured for over a decade.

The RAF Benev­o­lent Fund stepped in and pro­vided Matt with his archery equip­ment, which gave him some­thing to fo­cus on other than his PTSD and helped him switch off men­tally. Matt placed gold at this year’s Games.

While In­vic­tus has opened the door for many vet­er­ans with men­tal health is­sues, sadly there are still plenty suf­fer­ing in si­lence.

Tues­day (Oc­to­ber 10) marked World Men­tal Health Day. It was an­other op­por­tu­nity to en­cour­age peo­ple to speak out about their men­tal health is­sues and get the sup­port they need. This year’s theme was men­tal health in the work­place. Ac­cord­ing to the Men­tal Health Foun­da­tion, one in five peo­ple in the work­place ex­pe­ri­ence a men­tal health con­di­tion. The Armed Forces are no dif­fer­ent.

At the RAF Benev­o­lent Fund, the RAF’s lead­ing wel­fare char­ity, we have been help­ing the RAF Fam­ily with men­tal health is­sues for many years. We have also long worked with and fi­nan­cially sup­ported Com­bat Stress, the lead­ing vet­er­ans’ men­tal health char­ity. More re­cently we have been work­ing with Anx­i­ety UK to ad­dress is­sues head on, pro­vid­ing a helpline, ther­apy ses­sions and self-help ma­te­ri­als.

Our part­ner­ships have been work­ing: of those who have ac­cessed Anx­i­ety UK’s ther­apy ser­vices to date, 60% have shown re­li­able re­cov­ery and 90% have re­li­ably im­proved their lev­els of anx­i­ety, stress and anx­i­ety based de­pres­sion.

While there is still a stigma as­so­ci­ated with men­tal health, the sit­u­a­tion has im­proved dras­ti­cally from my days in the RAF, when men­tal health was rarely men­tioned.

How­ever, with cam­paigns like World Men­tal Health Day and the In­vic­tus Games, I am con­fi­dent that we will soon reach a point where peo­ple will no longer feel that they have to suf­fer in si­lence.

If you know of some­one who might ben­e­fit from our sup­port please visit: www.rafbf.org/help for more in­for­ma­tion. Air Vice-Mar­shal David Mur­ray Con­troller Royal Air Force Benev­o­lent Fund

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