Mental health support for RAF Service Personnel and mobilised Reservists
If you are a serving member of the RAF or a mobilised Reservist and need support with your mental health then in the first instance contact the DMS Medical Centre to see the GP who may then refer you to the Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH) if required. DCMHs are staffed by psychiatrists, mental health nurses, clinical psychologists and mental health social; workers. A wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments are available, including medication, psychological therapies, social support and a change of environment where appropriate.
Reservists who have mobilised since 2003, are eligible to mental health support through the Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme (VRMHP) for operationally related mental health problems. For more information, visit the mental healthcare section.
The NHS in England provide The Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) for SP approaching discharge from the Armed Forces, Reservists (active and non-active) and veterans with mental health difficulties. It is a self-referral service or a GP or military charity can also refer. TILS provides a range of treatment, from recognising the early signs of mental health problems and providing access to early support, to therapeutic treatment for complex mental health difficulties and psychological trauma. Help may also be provided with housing, employment, alcohol misuse and social support. For more information visit the NHS website and also read their leaflet entitled: NHS mental health care for veterans.
HeadFIT for Life
Launched by the Ministry of Defence and The Royal Foundation, HeadFIT for Life is made up of a series of tools or activities that can be easily incorporated into anyone’s day-to-day routine. Designed for Defence personnel, the aim is to help you establish healthy habits to unlock potential, achieve personal goals and reach your optimal wellbeing.
Use the HeadFIT tools to improve your drive, confidence, mood and how you de-stress.
Other sources of Support
Headspace is a ‘gym membership for the mind’ providing access to guided mindfulness exercises, delivered straight to your phone or browser, in bite-sized 10-minute sessions – perfect for busy schedules. You can choose different exercises that focus on specific areas such as sport, health or happiness. The RAF Benevolent Fund is offering all RAF personnel access to Headspace for free.
The RAF Benevolent Fund (RAFBF) offer a Listening and Counselling Service and it is available to RAF personnel (including Reservists) and their dependent family members. Support is available for a range of difficulties, including: anxiety and/or depression, bereavement and loneliness and isolation. Visit the RAF Benevolent Fund for more details.
Visit the RAF’s health and wellbeing page for a range of supporting tools and resources.
SSAFA work alongside the RAF, but outside the Chain of Command, to provide a Personal Support and Social Work Service with emotional and practical support for Service personnel and their families, both Regulars and reserves.
Phone: 03000 111 723
Email: [email protected]
Mental health support for families
If you are a family member of someone who serves, then the NHS provides your mental healthcare and in the first instance you should make an appointment to visit your GP who may then refer you to mental health support services. There are, however, some mental health services that you can self-refer to. These typically include services for drug and alcohol problems, as well as some psychological therapies.
To find out more about these services and how to access them, visit the NHS website.
Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service
If your child has a difficulty with their mental health then you should approach their GP or school for further advice. The GP/school may suggest referring your child to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
IMPORTANT: If your child is currently on the waiting list for CAMHS and you have to move due to being posted, it is really important you ask your current CAMHS service to forward your referral to the CAMHS service in your new area, as you will then maintain your place on the waiting list. If you don’t do this, you will lose your place on the waiting list in the new area.
The Green Paper
At the end of 2017, the Government produced a Green Paper on ‘Transforming children’s and young people’s mental health provision’.
One of the proposals in the Green Paper was to set up new Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) which will be delivered jointly by the NHS and the Department for Education. MHSTs aim to intervene early with mild to moderate mental health and wellbeing issues, such as anxiety or behaviour difficulties, and also to provide support to education staff. The first MHSTs were launched in 25 trailblazer areas announced in December 2018 and were expected to begin work by the end 2019. We have not yet received an update on the progress of these trailblazer MHSTs and we will continue to monitor the situation and inform you of any developments as they arise.
Other mental health services and support for Armed Forces families include the following:
- Contact is a group of charities working with the NHS and the MOD. They want to make it simpler for the military community to find support with their mental wellbeing. For more information visit Contact.
- Throughout 2020, RAFA are offering free mental wellbeing courses for non-serving members of the RAF community across the UK. Visit RAFA for more information and to book a free place.
- The RAF Benevolent Fund offers the partners of RAF personnel access to Headspace for free.
- Togetherall offers free and confidential online mental health and well-being services including self help programmes and online community support. All service personnel, veterans and their families can access Togetherall for free through their partnership with the Ministry of Defence and Help for Heroes.
- The Military Mental Health Helpline is delivered by Combat Stress and provides help, advice and support for serving personnel and their families 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 0800 323 4444 or for more details visit the MMH Helpline.
- The Hidden Wounds service can provide support for family members of SP who are feeling anxious, depressed or angry. They can also provide support with managing alcohol consumption. Support is available by phone, Skype or face to face.
- The Samaritans provides a free service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 116 123. The Samaritans have produced a useful guide which shares a host of different organisations you can go to for independent support.
- SSAFA FORCESLINE is a free and confidential helpline, open weekdays 9.00 am – 5.30 pm, providing advice and information for serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families. It is independent of the chain of command. Call 0800 731 4880 or for more details visit SSAFA FORCESLINE.
- The Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust has produced self help guides around anxiety, depression and low mood, and stress.
- The RAF’s Serving families page has a wealth information including what to do in a family emergency and how to find your local HIVE.
- If you have difficulty with sleeping, the NHS and Every Mind Matters websites have dedicated advice pages. For those who need more personalised support , visit SleepFoundation.org. In addition, if you have taken up the free Headspace membership through the RAFBF there are tips on sleep hygiene and tools and techniques to help you relax the mind and body. The Mental Health Foundation has also produced a guide called “How to sleep better” which is downloadable.
- The NHS website has a calming breathing exercise to help with stress and anxiety. The Anxiety UK website has a wealth of information about anxiety conditions and also where/how to get help. They have also developed advice and support online via their website blogs.