Family, friends and carers
It can sometimes be difficult to support a loved one who is experiencing mental health and wellbeing difficulties. You might not know what’s going on, why they might be distressed or angry or what to say or what to do. Perhaps you might avoid doing or saying anything for fear of doing the wrong thing – or feel frustrated if they don’t want you involved in their care.
Helping your veteran access care and treatment
You can refer a friend or family member into Op COURAGE. Please do speak to them first and make sure they are happy for you to do so on their behalf.
This first step may be difficult. They may not be ready to accept treatment at this time or may not be happy to discuss what they are feeling with you.
How we can involve you
Family members are often very in tune with the day to day changes in their veteran’s mental wellness and have a strong desire to offer help and support.
If the veteran we are supporting gives their permission for you to be involved in their care and treatment we will include you in discussions where we can.
You may attend appointments with them, if they wish, to help you have the right knowledge and information to support them in their recovery.
Military life and mental health both affect the whole family. We have a specialist family liaison worker to support families to:
Get help with adjusting to civilian life
Be involved in your relative’s care and treatment, if they want you to be
Get advice and community support for your family
Get treatment for your own difficulties
What carers say:
“I'd really like to thank you for all your support, and concern for my husband. You were the first person who really did anything to help him.”
"The service has enabled me to have a much greater understanding of my partner’s condition (complex PTSD and anxiety, insomnia and dissociations), how it presents and how to manage episodes when they occur."
"Being a carer can be very lonely and confusing and the service I have received from the Op COURAGE family caseworker has enabled me to have greater insight. I'm better equipped to help my partner and have been able to discuss my fears and worries with someone who has experience of such matters.
"It has been the first time that I have felt my concerns and worries have been listened to."
Three ways you can help your veteran
Listen to what they feel comfortable sharing before problem solving. Try to acknowledge the person’s feelings. Understand and try not to take it personally if they don’t want to talk too.
Provide practical support and encouragement
Work as a team: suggest spending some time together, ask them what support they would find useful. encourage them to keep a healthy diet and sleep routine; declutter and try to create a calm environment to reduce day-to-day stresses.
Look after yourself
Whatever it is that you are thinking or feeling, you are not alone. Link in with others who have similar experiences see details below of some of the support that is available that you might find helpful.
Help for family and friends of veterans with mental health needs
When you’re supporting someone else, it is even more important to think about your own needs too.
There are some organisations that provide support specifically for family friends and carers of military veterans with mental health needs:
Band of sisters
Open to close family members of Armed Forces veterans and service personnel who have been physically or psychologically wounded as a result of their service.
- www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support/fellowship-groups/band-of-sisters (opens in new browser tab)
They provide a seven day a week lifeline of safe, caring and professional support tofamilies, friends, partners and significant others who are struggling to cope with a loved one’s addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling. They also support those bereaved bydrugs, alcohol, gambling and related causes.
- www.drugfam.co.uk (opens in new browser tab)
Recruit for Spouses
They are a social enterprise dedicated to supporting, championing and assistingmilitaryspousesinto gainful employment.
- www.recruitforspouses.co.uk (opens in new browser tab)
Supporting adult family members of physically or psychologically injured British Armed Forces personnel and veterans.They offer a peer support service to connect you, virtually or face-to-face, with a network of Forces families, who’ll offer you genuine support and understanding.
- www.theripplepond.org (opens in new browser tab)
Provide information, advice and support for veterans and their families.
- www.veteransgateway.org.uk (opens in new browser tab)
Support from your local authority
If you’re a spouse, relative or friend of someone with mental ill-health you may not see yourself as a ‘carer’. On average it takes two years of supporting another person’s care and treatment to start considering yourself as a mental health carer.
Your local council can provide care and support for adults with mental health needs and their adult carers.
To qualify for a carer’s assessment you must:
- Be aged over the age of 18, disabled, ill or elderly
- Look after another adult with health or care needs
Councils can carry out these assessments to give you an opportunity to discuss:
- The impact caring has on your life
- What support you feel you need
- Your own physical, mental and emotional needs.
It doesn’t matter how much (or what type of) care you provide, your finances or how much support you need.
Find out more on your local council’s adult social services website, listed below:
Visit the Signal webpage for carers' support in Bracknell Forest (opens in new browser tab)
Reading and West Berkshire
(Provided by a partnership between Age UK, Mencap and CommuniCare)
Visit the Reading and West Berkshire Carers Partnership website for carers' support in this area (opens in new browser tab)
Visit the Slough Carers' Support website (opens in new browser tab)
Windsor and Maidenhead
Visit the RBWM council pages for carers' support in Windsor and Maidenhead (opens in new browser tab)
(Provided by a partnership between Age UK Berkshire; Promise Inclusion and Berkshire Youth)
Visit the Wokingham Bourough Council website for carers' support in Wokingham (opens in new browser tab)
Swale, Swanley, Gravesham, Dartford
Visit the Imago Community website for carer's support in Swale, Swanley, Gravesham, Dartford (opens in new browser tab)
Maidstone, Tonbridge Wells, Malling, Seven Oaks
Visit the Involve Kent website for carer's support in Maidstone, Tonbridge Wells, Malling, Seven Oaks (opens in new browser tab)
Visit the Medway page on the Carers First website (opens in new browser tab)
Alternatively, call 0300 303 1555
East Kent, Dover, Ashford, Shepway, Folkstone
Alternatively, call 0300 302 0061 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Kent County Council
Support is also available from Kent County Council - call 0300 041 414 or visit kent.gov.uk (opens in new browser tab)
Surrey County Council
Visit the Surrey County Council website for information about support for carers (opens in new browser tab)
Alternatively, call Surrey County Council: 0300 200 1005
Action for Carers Surrey
Visit the Action for Carers website for carers' support in Surrey (opens in new browser tab)
Alternatively, email email@example.com or text 07714 075 993
Visit the Carers Support West Sussex website (opens in new browser tab)
Alternatively, call Carers Support West Sussex: 0300 028 8888
For adult social services in West Sussex, call 0345 6080 191
Visit the Care for the Carers website for support in East Sussex (opens in new browser tab)
Alternatively, call Care for the Carers: 01323 738 390
For adult social services in East Sussex, call 0124 364 2121
Brighton and Hove
Visit the Carers Centre website for support in Brighton and Hove (opens in new browser tab)
Alternatively, call the Carers Centre: 01273 746 222
For adult social services in Brighton and Hove, call 01273 295 555