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Our Heroes – Combat Stress

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For more than 100 years Combat Stress has been the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.

During the First World War, our founders saw how servicemen returning home with shell shock received little to no sympathy from the public. Veterans were either locked away in mental war hospitals or struggled in silence at home.

In 1919, Combat Stress was founded. Taking a stand against the contempt and misunderstanding around mental health at the time, they began fundraising to introduce recuperative homes for veterans where they could take part in occupational activities to help them rebuild their lives.

Over time we have evolved our services to provide cutting edge, specialist treatment to any veteran from the British Armed Forces from any service or conflict, who is in need of our help, with a focus on those with complex mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

When some military personnel leave service, their experiences can’t easily be left behind. Without treatment, psychological trauma can eventually tear lives apart.

Our goal is for every veteran to recover from PTSD. We believe military trauma shouldn’t destroy the lives of veterans and their families. Instead, with our help, veterans can tackle the past and take on the future.

The work we do is life-changing and often life-saving. No one else does what we do.

I understand there’s a program for veterans with PTSD, anxiety, and depression. Can you share more details about what this program involves and how it supports participants?

PTSD is a severe mental health condition that can have a huge impact, causing veterans to relive the trauma they’ve experienced so often that they can find it hard to function in civilian life. It can lead to anxiety, anger, depression, isolation, alcohol and drug abuse, and in some tragic cases, suicide. All of this can tear families apart, destroy relationships and devastate lives.

Those with serious mental health problems related to military operations and combat need specialist care from services with expertise in treating complex mental health conditions. We provide bespoke treatment proven to work for veterans with PTSD.

To help veterans rebuild their lives, we provide a range of free services online, in the community and at our treatment centres including psychiatric and psychological treatment; substance misuse management; art therapy; occupational therapy; peer support; family support; online self-help materials and a 24-hour Helpline (0800 138 1619).

You mention you have programs for veterans with complex mental health conditions, and they need a specialist team made up of different mental health professionals to help them, and you provide this. Your clinicians work closely with each other and the veteran to develop a treatment plan that best suits their needs. Could you delve into more specifics about this program and its impact on participants?

Our interdisciplinary team includes nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, occupational therapists, peer support, and family support workers. Our staff work closely with each other and each veteran to make a treatment plan which fits the veteran’s individual needs. We operate alongside and partner with NHS mental health providers, GPs, and other charities.

We employ people all across the UK. Staff are based in our treatment centres and in the community. All are trained to understand military life and the mental health difficulties that veterans can face after leaving the military.
Our specialist treatment is evidence-based. Our in-house research department is used to help us continually improve the effectiveness of our services and ensure that veterans receive high-quality treatment. We also operate as a trauma-informed organisation: we use what we know about how traumatic experiences and stress affect veterans, and what helps them to recover, to accurately plan our services, policy, and practices.

Are your programs open to anyone, and can individuals from the community join without specific eligibility criteria?

Our treatment focuses on those with complex mental health issues.

However, we are here for every veteran from the British Armed Forces from any service or conflict, and of any age, gender, belief, and sexual orientation, who is struggling with their mental health. Even if our treatment isn’t suitable for you, rest assured we will signpost you to someone better placed to help.

Last year more than 12,000 veterans benefited from our help.

For those interested in getting involved, what opportunities are available, and what steps can individuals take to participate or support initiatives?

To veterans out there struggling in silence with their mental health, you are not alone. Asking for help is the hardest, but most important step, and we encourage you to call our 24-hour helpline (0800 138 1619) to begin your journey to recovery.
To those looking to support us, we are currently 74% reliant on donations. We depend on the public’s incredible generosity to enable us to meet the needs of every former serviceman and woman who turns to us for mental health treatment.

Even if you can’t make a donation, there are so many other ways to support us. You could take on a fundraising challenge or sign-up to one of our events, volunteer to spread awareness in the community, or even leave a gift in your will. The possibilities are endless.

Veterans rely on Combat Stress, and we in turn rely on the generosity of our supporters.

Additionally, could you share any success stories or testimonials from participants who have benefited from your programs?

Without Combat Stress, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, and whether I’d still be here… I’m not sure. I can’t thank them enough.”- Guy

“Combat Stress changed everything for me. When I left the Army, I thought I was finished and there was nothing more here for me but Combat Stress has given me a second chance.”-Scott

“Combat Stress saved me”- Simon

“Before, I was in a place of self-destruction, there’s no doubt about that. If it wasn’t for the angels at Combat Stress that looked after me, I wouldn’t be walking on this planet. They helped me and now I can enjoy my life again – and live.”- Stuart

“Combat Stress made me feel like I wasn’t on the scrap heap. Someone cared – finally someone gave a damn about me.”- Liz

Visit: https://combatstress.org.uk/ to find out more.

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