Veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress launches £10m Appeal

Veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress launches a £10 million appeal today, Monday 13 May, to meet the increasing demand from younger veterans for its specialist services.

His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, Patron of Combat Stress, will launch the Appeal tonight at a reception at St James’s Palace, attended by veterans who have been treated by the charity.

Launched in Combat Stress’ centenary year, The At Ease Appeal needs to raise £10 million over three years. With more demand for its services than Combat Stress can meet, the charity is more reliant than ever before on charitable donations.

In the last decade new referrals to the charity have doubled to 2,000 a year, largely due to a significant number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans coming forward for help. Recent research* has revealed that the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is now nearly twice as high among veterans than the general public. For those who served on the frontline in Iraq or Afghanistan, almost one in five are predicted to develop PTSD.

No other organisation provides these services. The money raised through the Appeal will enable Combat Stress to continue supporting those who turn to the charity in their darkest hour by providing crucial services such as its world-leading PTSD Intensive Treatment Programme, short-stay clinical treatment and a free 24-hour Helpline and text number.

Alongside this, there is an urgency to meet the needs of younger veterans who often have work or family commitments and struggle to balance the pressure of their lives with seeking mental health treatment.

Combat Stress will use funds raised through the Appeal to increase access to treatment by launching its world-class PTSD Intensive Treatment Programme into the community to allow more veterans to have flexible access to treatment. The charity will also introduce innovative video call therapy and expand its successful Peer Support Service, which helps veterans feel supported and safe so they’re able to engage with the charity and benefit fully from the range of treatment programmes.

Davina, a 43-year-old Army veteran who was treated by Combat Stress for PTSD, said:

“Whilst I wanted to get help, I really didn’t want anyone at work to know what I was going through. I wanted life to carry on as normal. Combat Stress took my concerns on board and offered me a therapy session one day a week on my day off. This was the perfect solution for me.

“It’s the hardest thing to say you need help but at Combat Stress, they understand. They know what you don’t. Thanks to Combat Stress, I’m so much more relaxed today.”

General Sir Peter Wall, President of Combat Stress and Chairman of The At Ease Appeal Advisory Board, said:

“Please help us take this urgent step forward in veteran mental health treatment. I hope you will join us in our mission to change the lives of those veterans – and their families– who so badly need our help and give your support to The At Ease Appeal. With your support, together we can transform the lives of those who have paid a high price for serving their nation.”

*Research from King’s College London, October 2018.

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.

For a century we’ve helped former servicemen and women deal with trauma-related mental health issues like anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Each year we see an average of 2,000 referrals. Demand for our services continues to grow – in the last ten years we’ve a 97% increase in referrals.

On average it takes 13 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 (four and six years respectively).

To help veterans rebuild their lives, we provide a range of free services:

  • Short-stay clinical treatment at our treatment centres in Ayrshire and Surrey
  • A specialist PTSD Intensive Treatment Programme – delivered at our treatment centres
  • Occupational therapy – delivered at our treatment centres and in the community, we use meaningful and creative activity to encourage hope, wellbeing and recovery
  • Outpatients  assessment by psychiatrists and psychologists – at our treatment centres and in the community – enables us to diagnose, define and deliver the treatment veterans require
  • Community Teams – providing treatment and practical support to veterans. Last year our regional community teams undertook almost 5,400 face-to-face appointments
  • 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
  • We have a 24-hour Helpline available to veterans and their families (0800 138 1619) and to serving personnel and their families (0800 323 4444)

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