There are times when we all feel a little low. It's perfectly normal to feel stressed or anxious sometimes but when this stress starts to become overwhelming and interfere with your daily life, it is important to reach out for support.
Stress and trauma experienced during service, as well as difficult life events, can lead to anxiety and depression.
It is thought that one in four people will experience a common mental health illness at some stage in their lives, but many do not seek the help they need, with only a quarter of those diagnosed going on to receive treatment. It can be difficult to reach out for help when you are feeling stressed or anxious.
That's why we are working with Anxiety UK to provide additional support to adults of any age who are affected by anxiety or depression.
Through this new service, you will receive emotional support from professionals with direct experience of mental health issues, as well as access to local counselling if needed.
The service includes:
- A dedicated helpline and email to provide emotional support
- Therapy provision for those experiencing anxiety and/or depression*
- Self-help materials and annual membership to Anxiety UK*
Please note that while non-serving dependent family members and part-time reservists will be able to access the therapy provision aspect of this service directly through Anxiety UK, serving personnel and full-time reservists will be required to go via the Station Medical Officer.
*Eligibility criteria applies
**Call charges will apply. For T&Cs see Anxiety UK's website
Please note, if you are a veteran in need of support with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), please contact Combat Stress in the first instance.
While more and more RAF personnel and veterans are seeking support for mental health problems, many still suffer in silence.
Sally*, a Reservist in the RAF, contacted Anxiety UK, which is working in partnership with the RAF Benevolent Fund to support the RAF Family experiencing anxiety or depression, for support with depression. She tells us why she is encouraging others to contact the service for help as well.
I joined the RAF Reserves in 2011. I’d wanted to join the Regulars, but ended up doing a teaching degree but when an opportunity came up with the Reserves I took it.
About a year ago work pressures were becoming too much for me. I am an SAC but I have been acting up as a Corporal and I was putting a lot of pressure on myself for everything to be perfect.
My partner is also in the RAF and is away a lot and I was also concerned about his welfare when he was away and I was becoming more and more anxious. I started to feel overwhelmed but threw myself into work – I knew I couldn’t break down there - and I began working later and later, just so as not to be home alone with my thoughts.
Things started to get too much for me and behind closed doors everything started to unravel. It started to impact on my relationship and as my partner and I were arguing so much I knew I had to do something about it.
I contacted Anxiety UK and I was offered cognitive behavioural therapy with a local therapist. I have had six sessions now and she is brilliant. She has taught me to recognise the symptoms and how to deal with them. I know I am prone to depression but I know now to ask for help when I need it.
There is still a stigma around mental illness. I knew deep down something was wrong but I did not want to start that first conversation, I had a fear of where to start. I spent a long time in denial. You have to trust your family or a loved one and talk about it. My other half was adamant that things could not be left as they were any longer but I had to be pushed to get help. I thought I was coping but I wasn't.
Without the therapy sessions I would be in a far worse situation and I would encourage others to please seek help if they feel they are not coping and talk to someone about how they are feeling.
*Names have been changed