Addressing the mental health needs of ex-service men and women

Two reports on the BBC website and in the Guardian this week have highlighted the challenges faced not just by serving personnel in the armed forces, but also for reservists, territorials and ex-servicemen and women.

This resonates strongly with our own experience on our Shoulder to Shoulder mentoring project, where we recruit volunteers to support ex-servicemen and women living with mental health problems in the community.

Where once it was accepted wisdom that it would take a significant period of time for PTSD to impact veterans lives, we are now working with much younger veterans – many in their 20s.

They will usually be living with a wide range of mental health problems in the community, often exacerbated by unemployment, homelessness and substance misuse – and a significant proportion will also have spent time in prison.

We are developing links with prisons to try and ensure that referral pathways are in place for veterans leaving the prison system - we know our intervention makes a difference to a veteran’s sense of wellbeing, trust and hope for the future.

If you’d like to know more about Shoulder to Shoulder take a look here.