Forces Network Focuses on Mental Health Awareness Week 14-20th May

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The Forces Network is broadcasting a week-long series of reports and interviews looking at mental health issues in forces communities.

Forces TV will show clips online taken from a recent interview with Prince Harry. He describes how his experiences in Afghanistan were the trigger to deal with his own mental health problems:

“Not to get too personal but if you lose your mum at the age of 12 then you’ve got to deal with it.

“…15, 17 years later, I still hadn’t dealt with it. Afghan was the moment …”

Forces Radio BFBS is taking part in the Mental Health Minute, a nationwide initiative involving hundreds of radio stations across the UK simultaneously playing a one-minute message. The audio features famous voices talking about mental health and will be broadcast at 10.59 am on Tuesday 15th May.

As part of the seven-day coverage on Forces Radio BFBS, presenter Hal Stewart speaks to Sue Freeth, Chief Executive of Combat Stress, about the importance of peer-to-peer support

“We have a support network made up of veterans who’ve already been through recovery for trauma-related mental health and want to give some of their experience back to people who are just starting.”

Sue also discusses why Mental Health Awareness Week is so vital: “It gets the nation talking about mental health and that immediately helps to break down the barrier for individuals who are still finding it difficult to say: ‘You know what, actually I’m not finding it that easy’… this starts the conversation. I think it’s an opportunity for people to find organisations like us.”

Ex-servicemen and women who are now students at the Forces Media Academy have also produced radio features focusing on how the creative arts can help with recovery.

Freddie, who was a medic with the Royal Navy, says:

“I started showing symptoms of PTSD in November 2011 after returning from a very tough frontline tour of Afghanistan.

“A huge influence on my own recovery has involved contact with the casualties I treated in Afghanistan and seeing how they’ve managed to get on with their lives.

“Mental health issues should definitely be discussed in forces and veteran communities as these are problems that can affect anyone that is serving or has previously served.”

The coverage on www.forces.net will also include features on: Mental Health First Aid Courses at RAF Brize Norton; the positive effects of gardening for veterans with mental health issues, plus candid interviews with those who have experienced PTSD.

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