It's World Mental Health today - we're putting the spotlight on veterans' families.

Today is World Mental Health Day – so an ideal time to turn the spotlight on the thousands of ex-service men and women who are recovering from mental health issues – and the families who are struggling to support them.

Veteran: a person who has served in a military force, especially one who has fought in a war

There is a general perception that a veteran is a senior gentleman who fought in the World Wars, but in fact a veteran is any person - male or female - who has served any time with any of the Armed Forces be it the Army, Navy or RAF.

Many of the veterans we see are of varying ages and would often go unnoticed if you walked past them in the street. They don’t tend to shout about the time they served in the Forces.

However, through our Shoulder to Shoulder project we hear how their lives can  be particularly challenging. Last year 22,530 personnel left the regular Armed Forces. Over 27% will have a mental health disorder.

Some families battle every day to understand and deal with the consequences of a veteran’s mental health. Whether it’s a husband, wife, son, daughter, mum or dad who is going through a difficult time,  families can suddenly find themselves as carers and are just not equipped with the knowledge, tools and support to enable them to deal with it.

“I wish I knew how to deal with it”,  “I could tell he wasn’t right but I didn’t know how to help”, “I wish someone spent time with me to tell me how to cope with his mental health” are all things I have heard from families who have got in touch with our Shoulder to Shoulder Families project.  

So we are delighted that we’ve been able  to secure a FREE mental health first aid training session exclusively for families of any veteran from the West Midlands – whatever their gender or age. It is a two day training session being held on the 11th & 17th November 2014 in central Birmingham

Mental Health First Aid for the Armed Forces Community will help families gain a better understanding of both the military culture and mental health issues and in particular to:

• Spot the early signs of a mental health problem

• Feel confident helping someone experiencing a problem

• Provide help on a first aid basis

• Help prevent someone from hurting themselves or others

• Help stop a mental illness from getting worse

• Help someone recover faster

• Guide someone towards the right support

• Reduce the stigma of mental health problems

Contact Laura Davis if you’d like to find out more or to book a place - but please note that there are a limited number on the course.