We use cookies to give you the best experience. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our policy. Read more about how we use cookies and find out how you can change your browser's cookie setting
Skip to content
Please donate

Support for mental wellbeing in the ex-service community

Published on 13 May 2022 09:03 AM

This Mental Health Awareness Week, we look at mental health and wellbeing in the older ex-service community, and support available for its members.

First, to dispel a myth.  Overall, those who have served in our Armed Forces are at no greater risk of poor mental health and wellbeing.  But, of course, mental health remains an issue within the ex-service community, as it is within society generally.

Poppyscotland can assist as, in many areas, can NHS Veterans First Point.  And for veterans with mental health problems linked to their military service Combat Stress is there to provide support.

Arguably just as vital for the mental health of older veterans, including regulars, reservists, national servicemen and some merchant mariners, are the community services and opportunities that both help prevent and alleviate mental health problems.  Within Unforgotten Forces, Scotland’s charity partnership supporting older veterans, there are great examples of wellbeing services.

Social connection is vital for mental wellbeing and having a shared background can make it easier to connect with someone you don’t know.   Legion Scotland, Age Scotland, Erskine, and the RAF Association offer opportunities to enjoy camaraderie with other veterans. 

Being physically active also supports good mental health.  Erskine and Sight Scotland Veterans provide opportunities for their members to do enjoyable and sociable physical activities, and Age Scotland offers a free advice guide on getting started.

Learning and having purpose are important for wellbeing.  Erskine and Sight Scotland Veterans offer their members opportunities to learn new skills, such as IT.  Men’s Sheds are fantastic community spaces where male veterans can learn or refine skills, enjoy camaraderie, and pursue meaningful projects.

Neuroscience shows helping others lights up the brain’s reward centres.  Many Unforgotten Forces charities welcome volunteers, helping other veterans directly, and (or) indirectly as fund-raisers. 

The mental health support landscape for veterans in Scotland is changing.  Last December a 5-year Scottish Veterans Mental Health Action Plan was launched, a document hailed by Scottish Veterans Commissioner as “hugely important and long-awaited.”  The Action Plan is based on three principles. First, that veterans will have equal access to appropriate mental health and wellbeing services, regardless of where they live.  Second, that veterans should be able to access the right help at the right time.  And third that the NHS, councils, and charities should be appropriately supported to meet the needs of veterans and develop and deliver Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Support and Services. 

You can read the Scottish Veterans Mental Health Action Plan at www.veteranscarenetwork.scot.  To find out more about support offered by Unforgotten Forces visit www.unforgottenforces.scot.

Become part of our story

Sign up to our email newsletter

Back to top