I'm a mental health nurse working for South London and Maudsley, based at the Maudsley hospital. I am also a military veteran, having served in the Royal Navy for six years working on frigates and minehunters.
I was involved in various deployments from counter submarine surveillance to clearing second world war mines in Norway as well as the Baltic states and also clearing live mines in the Arabian Sea.
I would say that one of the reasons I became a mental health nurse is because I saw firsthand colleagues of mine suffer with mental health issues. By the very nature of their occupation, members of the Armed Forces are often exposed to unique challenges, such as exposure to high pressured situations, trauma, extended periods away from home and difficulty adjusting between military and civilian life. These challenges can all have a detrimental effect on an individual’s mental health.
There can also be drinking culture and a work hard, play hard attitude so it's no wonder that mental health is of great concern to the Ministry of Defence and mental health services.
Veterans often try and hide their feelings, leading to a complete breakdown of their life - this can happen many years after being discharged.
I have been working with the Trust's Veterans Accreditation Working Group and I'm also working with SLaM Recovery College to deliver the Veterans Moving Forward programme in association with Help for Heroes - we are hoping to launch this in the near future. The course is designed to support veterans living with low mood, depression and anxiety. It will help veterans develop life skills such as being able to manage their financial wellbeing and help them to cope with the transition from military to civilian life.
For more information about the ways in which our Trust supports the Armed Forces community, please contact Eliza Wright: Eliza.Wright@slam.nhs.uk