Help for Heroes has released new research with YouGov, revealing that 1 in 4 (23 per cent) partners or family members of Service Personnel and Veterans say their own mental health and wellbeing has been affected by their loved one’s situation.
Many are suffering in silence, with 1 in 8 (16 per cent) reporting that they would try to cope with issues alone. Only 5 per cent said they would seek help from a mental health professional.
It’s the stigma of speaking up as an Armed Services partner or family member that is the main reason many of those surveyed have not spoken up. Worryingly, 39 per cent of those who would try to cope alone stated that they “don’t feel [they] have the right to seek help”, almost half (43 per cent) said they “need to be the strong one” and 16 per cent admitted they would be “afraid of appearing weak”.
In 2018, Help for Heroes wants to change this attitude and empower our Armed Forces families.
Karen Mead, Head of Psychological Wellbeing at Help for Heroes, said: “Stigma continues to be a big barrier in coming forward for support for Serving Personnel and Veterans, but also their families. This is a concern. We need to reach these families to let them know if they need support, we are here for them. Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds offers free and confidential advice to the family members of these Veterans if they are worried about the impact of their Veteran’s mental health on their own wellbeing.”
She added: “There are tens of thousands of wives, sons, daughters and parents out there who have been so affected by the impact of their loved one’s military service that their mental health is suffering too. Caring for a loved one with physical injuries, or mental health conditions such as PTSD can lead to serious consequences for the carers’ wellbeing. When Veterans are struggling, their loved ones can be a force for good. Seeking help is a very courageous thing to do. We need to remind families that they are an important part of their veteran’s support network and they are just as deserving of support as their veteran.”
Now in its fourth year, Hidden Wounds has already helped almost 2,000 veterans and their families, but tens of thousands more are in need of the unique support offered by the service.
We know many Veterans struggling with their mental health have never accessed support before. If you are the loved one of a Veteran who hasn’t reached out, particularly if you are worried about the impact of your Veteran’s mental health on your own wellbeing, we’re here to offer free and confidential advice.
Hidden Wounds can also support Ex-Service Personnel, their families and the families of those currently serving who are worried about anxiety, depression, anger or drinking.