Bestselling author, explorer and photographer Levison Wood, visited the UK’s leading charity for veterans mental health on Wednesday to talk to former servicemen and women about his career as an officer in the Parachute Regiment and his transition to becoming an explorer.
While at Audley Court, the Combat Stress centre in Newport, Shropshire, Levison was taken on a tour to see how the charity supports veterans with mental health conditions. The services provided at the centre include occupational therapy workshops, which help veterans improve their physical health and well-being, relationships, behaviour, beliefs, emotions and thinking. This enables veterans to become more resilient and cope better with their condition.
Levison’s visit complimented these sessions by inspiring the veterans with the story of his successful transition to civilian life.
Levison said: “It’s been great to meet the team and some of the veterans who have benefited from the support of Combat Stress. I hope that hearing about my own experiences, particularly about my transition from the military in to my civilian career, has inspired some of the veterans in their future paths.
“I’ve enjoyed learning about the projects that Combat Stress is involved with and seeing how the process works. It’s a really important charity. Mental health is something I’m particularly interested in and as a veteran myself it’s a cause I’d like to support in the future.
“I think it’s important for veterans to remember they’re not alone and it’s really important to talk. If you’ve got any issues you want to bring up, contact Combat Stress, talk to them about your problems and get the help that you need.”
Sue Freeth, Chief Executive of Combat Stress, said:
“We’re so grateful to Levison for visiting Audley Court. His career in the Army means that he has an understanding of the challenges veterans can face.
“Part of the work we do with occupational therapy is to encourage veterans to discover interests and skills that they did not realise they possessed or could put to practical use.
“I’m sure the veterans found it both motivating and inspirational to hear about Levison’s travels and how he has effectively used the skills he learnt in the military.”
About Combat Stress
Combat Stress is the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.
For almost a century they’ve helped former servicemen and women deal with issues like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Over the past five years (2012 to 2017) they have seen an average of more than 2,000 referrals each year. Demand for their services continues to grow – they have seen a 143% increase in referrals from ten years ago.
On average it takes 12 years after leaving the military for veterans to contact Combat Stress for help, by which time their condition is often highly complex. However, veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts are coming to Combat Stress much sooner (three and four years respectively).
To help veterans rebuild their lives, they provide a range of free services:
- Short-stay clinical treatment at their treatment centres
- A specialist Intensive Treatment Programme – delivered at their treatment centres
- Community Teams – providing treatment and practical support to veterans. Last year their regional community teams undertook almost 5,400 face-to-face appointments
- Outpatients – assessment by psychiatrists and psychologists – at their treatment centres and in the community – enables them to diagnose, define and deliver the treatment veterans require
- Occupational therapy – delivered at their treatment centres and in the community, they use meaningful and creative activity to encourage hope, well being and recovery
- Peer Support Service – Led by veterans for veterans, it’s the first UK-wide service of its kind for those with mental health problems. The service enables them to share their experiences, receive support and socialise with others with similar experiences.
- Substance Misuse Case Management Service – helping veterans to access the services for their drug and alcohol problems so their mental health issues can be addressed
- Our 24-hour Helpline is there for veterans, serving personnel and their families (0800 138 1619)