Social isolation affects people from all walks of life, but can affect veterans especially. Physical injury, mental health and distressing events can leave people feeling withdrawn or unable to cope as they try to adjust to their new normal.
For some, losing military connections and the sense of camaraderie can also be overwhelming. Add in the effects of the pandemic, which has hit people’s confidence to go out and socialise - for many staying in has become a safety net. Those who are the most lonely and isolated are the least likely to ask for help.
Please look out for anyone showing signs of withdrawal and isolation and encourage them to reconnect and seek help.
SPOTTING THE SIGNS
- Look out for changes in behaviour – watch out for behaviour that suggests someone may be struggling. For example, not answering phone calls; no longer attending events; unwillingness to engage in conversation; they seem sad or unmotivated; not opening their curtains or answering their doors.
HOW TO HELP
- Make simple connections – for someone who is isolated the simplest things can make a real difference, whether it’s a smile and a wave through a window, a text, a note through the door or an invitation to a community event. You may be the only outside connection they have that day
- Go walking – invite them for a walk - the physical and mental health benefits are endless! Why not see if any of your other neighbours fancy joining, too?
- Find common ground – those in the military don’t always understand civilians and vice versa. This misunderstanding can build barriers that need to be broken down, so find something universal to talk about like local news, sport, or your favourite music and films.
- Get support – if you think someone is really struggling, encourage them to get professional support. Any veteran struggling with mental or physical health as a result of their service can reach out for advice and support.
Help for Heroes takes a holistic approach to isolation, providing mental health support through our Hidden Wounds service and offering activities that bring veterans and family members with similar experiences together.