Charity bids to combat stigma of veterans’ mental ill-health

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WAR veterans in North Lanarkshire who are suffering from mental health problems have a shoulder to lean on.

Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity specialising in the treatment of veterans’ mental health, has launched a campaign in North Lanarkshire to battle the stigma of psychological disorders that prevents many brave ex-servicemen and women from seeking help.

The charity, funded by Comic Relief, chose this week - Scottish Mental Health Week – to launch its campaign.

In North Lanarkshire there are some 45 veterans aged from 24 to 89 who receive support from Combat Stress.

Robert Lappin, regional welfare officer in Scotland, said: “Combat Stress has been around since 1919, so we’ve seen the effects of stigma for the last 92 years.

“Every week I meet men and women who have bravely fought for their country but, now battling mental health problems, are too ashamed or embarrassed to seek help.

“We have found that on average people wait just over 13 years after leaving the Armed Forces before getting in contact with us. This is too long, as the longer they wait the worse they get.”

He urged veterans and their loved ones in North Lanarkshire to pick up the phone and call the charity’s free helpline - 0800 138 1619 - or text 07537 404 719.

He also called on the public to visit the Combat Stress website, www.combatstress.org.uk, and sign the online pledge to show their support for veterans.

In a survey carried out by Combat Stress, 81 per cent of veterans revealed they felt ashamed or embarrassed about their mental ill-health with many unable to speak to their families about the issue.