Former servicemen and women in Lanarkshire who are struggling to cope with life outside of the military are being urged to sign up to a new peer support service.
Delivered by veterans’ mental health charity Combat Stress, it is the first UK-wide service of its kind for those with mental health problems. The Peer Support Service, funded by The Royal British Legion, helps those veterans whose mental health has been affected by their time in the Armed Forces, and who are experiencing loneliness and social isolation after leaving the military.
For many the adjustment to civilian life can be confusing and distressing, leaving them struggling with changes to their identity and feeling that few people around them truly understand what they are experiencing. This can be even more isolating if the veteran develops symptoms of mental health conditions.
The Peer Support Service offers former servicemen and women a chance to share their experiences, receive support and socialise with others who have had similar experiences.
So far 28 groups have been established by Combat Stress in towns and cities around the UK, with more planned.
The service in Lanarkshire is co-ordinated by Robert Lappin, a retired Royal Engineer. During his 21 years in the Army, serving initially in the ranks and then as an officer, he served on operations in Northern Ireland, the Balkans and the Gulf.
He overcame his own challenges following his transition to civilian life and has worked for Combat Stress since 2010. He has a solid understanding of the challenges faced by veterans in Scotland.
Mr Lappin said: “Mental health problems can make even the simplest things seem hard to do but this service is a way for veterans to easily access support and advice. Veterans have the chance to come along to small group meetings or to meet me individually.”
Carol Smith, Director Client Services at Combat Stress, added: “I’d like to thank The Royal British Legion for funding the Peer Support Service.
“Research has suggested that social support has a positive impact on mental health and the effects of trauma. Peer support aims to help by increasing social interaction amongst individuals who may otherwise feel isolated or stigmatised.”
Veterans can call the Combat Stress 24-hour mental health helpline on 0800 138 1619 to be referred to the Peer Support Service.