Social isolation affects people from all walks of life, but for some veterans especially, the Christmas period can be tough. Physical injury, mental health and distressing events can leave people feeling withdrawn or unable to cope as they try to adjust to their new normal.  During the festive season, feelings of loneliness can be heightened. 

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. 

This Christmas we are asking you to #BeChristmasPresent and look out for anyone  showing signs of withdrawal and isolation, by encouraging 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 Christmas card through the door or an invitation to a community event. You may be the only outside connection they have that day    
  • Go walking – many of us found mental and physical benefits from going out for a socially distanced walk with others during lockdown. Those benefits are universal so why not invite them on a walk if you know them well, or a group walk with neighbours if not.   
  •  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, the weather or your favourite Christmas song!  
  • 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.  

If you’re a veteran who is struggling, we are here for you. Please reach out by visiting our get help page.

 

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