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.
According to recent research, one in five veterans are likely to be living with a common mental health illness but many do not seek the help they need. 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, whether that be a veteran of the RAF, their loved one or a dependent family member of serving RAF personnel.
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
*Eligibility criteria applies
**Call charges will apply. For T&Cs see Anxiety UK's website
How former RAF pilot Martin Oxborrow coped with his mental illness
Former C-130 Hercules pilot Martin Oxborrow's RAF career came to an end when he suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks which manifested itself in a fear of heights and flying. Martin, now 63, eventually sought help for his mental illness and urges others in the RAF to speak up and do the same.
"Obviously having a fear of heights and panic attacks was a real problem for a Hercules pilot!" says Martin. "At first I tried to carry on flying but I was completely stressed out and it started to affect my abilities.
"I was offered a lot of support from the RAF but it was hard to admit something was wrong. I knew I couldn't carry on in my RAF career – which was devastating as it's all I'd ever wanted to do – and I was eventually discharged in 1997.
"I still don't know what triggered the anxiety. I had a lot of things going on in my personal life at the time but the point is sometimes you're just not aware how stressed you are. A psychiatrist said to me that my brain was like a jug filled to the brim and trying to fill it anymore was overwhelming.
"There is still a lot of stigma around mental illness and it was only after I told people how I was feeling that others came up to me and admitted they had been feeling the same but were too afraid to admit it.
"I've had to completely change my lifestyle so it's less stressful and I'm still on medication. I also have hypnotherapy to help with the anxiety. I want to go and see my daughter in New York but at the moment that's impossible as I haven't flown since I left the RAF. I'm hoping hypnotherapy will help and I'll be able to make the journey to see her.
"I think this partnership with Anxiety UK is so important. I would urge anybody who has even the slightest inkling that something is wrong to use this service and get the help they need. Talk to someone, find treatment and keep fighting."
Individual Support Service
Our Individual Support Service run by specially-trained staff provides support and advice to vulnerable, isolated or bereaved members of the RAF family. To find out more about this service call 0800 169 2942.