It is hoped that the programmes being developed, trialed and tested within the Alliance have the potential to be scaled up and benefit the wider naval family throughout the UK and beyond.
Here, Lizzie Walker-Arnott from charity partner Solent Mind, talks about what has been achieved by the Alliance so far.
“Since starting our partnership with the Military Mental Health Alliance, Solent Mind has set up some exciting and groundbreaking new services and programmes. To date over 130 serving personnel have been provided with mental health awareness training in Royal Navy bases in Portsmouth and Fareham as a direct result of our partnership with We are Hummingbird and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity, who helped facilitate our access onto the bases.
Together we are working to break down the stigma surrounding mental health while educating and informing serving personnel on how to become more aware of - and keep on top of - their mental wellbeing, as well as looking for the tell-tale signs in others that they may need additional support.
So far feedback from the courses has revealed 100% of participants would recommend the course to colleagues and are interested in becoming more attuned to their mental well-being.”
“I attended the Mental Health First Aid course held at SULTAN in December and it certainly increased my awareness of mental health and the difficulties associated with it. I have in the past been almost naïve to it and taken it for granted; I can now empathise with those with a mental health condition and feel confident that I could, as a Divisional Officer, recognise symptoms and manage individuals who may need support. I am far from an expert but the course certainly helps you understand and
de-stigmatise this whole area. Big thanks to Ian (from We Are Hummingbird) who was excellent throughout and made the course both informative and enjoyable too.”
“Everything was Royal Navy related which made it all much less abstract, and helpful to understand how we can actually use the tools being provided. He (Ian) did a fantastic job, and I’ve been really energised in myself since attending this training which has been amazing. Such small changes can make a big difference.”
“We have also started setting up a new service to support the families of serving Navy and Marines personnel”, Lizzie continues, “RNRMC funding enabled us to employ a Serving Personnel Family Liaison Practitioner, Lucy Irving. This is a brand new community-based role covering Gosport, Fareham, Portsmouth, and the Isle of Wight. The role is currently in the research and development stage. The aim is to fit to the current needs of the service families community, support them to access support and to reduce the stress of not knowing where to turn, to improve their wellbeing and mental health. This is being developed in partnership with RNRMC and Solent NHS. We are also have some more exciting developments in the pipeline to create a range of bespoke courses within the Solent Recovery College to support veterans and serving personnel.“
Of her new role, Lucy says: “Service families face unique challenges, including deployment, relocation, stress, loneliness, lack of family support and much more. This can sometimes have a negative impact on wellbeing and mental health. We want to make sure that all service families have a voice and a service to support them in these times of need. We want to offer a service in the heart of the community to help families access specific support from people who understand and can empathise”