Mental wellbeing is an important part of family life, as it can affect everyone in the household. Veterans in particular may experience mental health concerns, and partners, children, or other family members may find themselves in a changed environment.
It can be a difficult topic to speak about honestly, however there is support available for veterans and their family members. Alongside help from organisations like the NHS, there are behaviours that loved ones can look out for. With care and support, families can overcome the challenges associated with mental health.
How do I know if a member of my family needs mental health support?
Veterans experiencing mental health issues will often display common tell-tale signs. If you notice frequent examples of these behaviours, they may need support with their mental health:
- ISOLATE themselves from family and friends.
- RECLUSIVE - avoids noise, crowds or shopping.
- QUIET and non-communicative.
- HEAVY DRINKING and/or smoking.
- AGGRESSIVE towards spouse.
- ANGRY, irritable and bad tempered with children.
- NIGHTMARES or insomnia.
- WORKING excessively to avoid issues.
What should I do if I think my family member needs mental health support?
Although it may seem like a difficult situation, there are steps you can take to begin addressing the problem:
- YOU'RE NOT ON YOUR OWN - help and support is available.
- RECOGNISE THE SIGNS that your partner or family member may be suffering in silence.
- TALK to your partner or family member.
- GET HELP - don't be embarrassed to share your concerns or be worried about what others may think.
- SPEAK to your GP for local help such as family therapy. You can also contact The Ripple Pond who support families directly and Combat Stress. ( Please be aware as of Monday 27 January 2020 Combat Stress will not be taking new referrals in England and Wales. Referrals will continue as usual in Northern Ireland, and in Scotland.)
- CONTACT Veterans' Gateway to get support from our specialist partners who can help safeguard you and your family and give you advice on how best to support your partner.
- READ more detailed information on help available to spouses on Veterans' Gateway website.
What if families of veterans need mental health support?
Although veterans themselves may face many challenges associated with mental health, the mental health of everyone around them is just as important. If you, as a spouse, partner, child, or other family member feel that you need help, the first step is to recognise the problem.
There is support available, and organisations such as Combat Stress are working on initiatives to get help to the families of veterans through discreet channels such as skype discussions.
For help from our partners, see our guides below:
- Mental health support for spouses and dependants in England
- Mental health support for spouses and dependants in Wales
- Mental health support for spouses and dependants in Scotland
- Mental health support for spouses and dependants in Northern Ireland
Watch the video below to find out more about the mental health support Veterans' Gateway offered to veterans Colin and Pete and their spouses.