A national mental health programme is calling on ex-Service personnel in Renfrewshire to be part of a new Scotland-wide campaign to tackle the issue of mental health stigma in the veterans’ community.

See Me, Scotland’s programme to end mental health stigma and discrimination, is working on a new campaign exploring how mental health stigma affects Armed Forces veterans – and there are opportunities for veterans living in Renfrewshire to be a part of the work.

The campaign, part of a wider Scottish Government project around veterans’ mental health, seeks to encourage veterans from all branches of the Forces to speak up and ask for help when struggling with their mental health. See Me is looking for veterans, their families and friends to help shape the campaign.

While Armed Forces veterans aren’t more likely to struggle with their mental health than the general population, veterans take more than ten years to ask for help after they start struggling.

Not knowing what is happening to them, and thinking they may appear weak if they say they are struggling, are two of the biggest barriers that veterans face when it comes to seeking support with their mental health. Family members and friends often play an important role in helping veterans to see that they need help.

See Me’s communications and public affairs manager Nick Jedrzejewski said: “Too many veterans are struggling alone with their mental health, unable to ask for help. Unfortunately, this can lead to a point of crisis for too many. We want to change this.

“With this new campaign, we hope to show veterans having a tough time with their mental health that they aren’t alone. One of the most powerful ways of addressing mental health stigma, in all communities, is by sharing and talking about what we’ve been through. We’re really keen to hear from veterans and their families who are willing to share those experiences.”

See Me is looking to work with veterans Scotland-wide, along with their family members and friends, to participate in the new campaign in two different ways. Participants can take part in focus groups to offer views on messaging and resources, or act as the ‘face’ of the campaign, sharing their own mental health story.

Nick added: “We know how close-knit the Armed Forces are, and the veterans’ community, so we’re really keen to make sure that veterans are at the heart of this campaign, sharing their experiences and helping others to see that they aren’t alone.

“Nobody should be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed of their mental health. Staying silent and not getting help can be the difference between life and death. The campaign offers a great opportunity to use your experiences to help others – I would encourage any veteran in Renfrewshire who has struggled with their mental health and who is willing to share their experiences publicly to get in touch.”

To find out more about how you can get involved in the campaign, email Nick.Jedrzejewski@seemescotland.org.

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