Mental health


Isolation, separation and mobility can all impact on Service families’ mental health and emotional wellbeing, so AFF is working in partnership with various organisations to promote awareness of these issues.

If you or a member of your family is experiencing mental health or emotional wellbeing issues, or if you are not receiving the support that you feel you need, please contact Karen Ross at

Please check our COVID-19 section for up-to-date information, as the coronavirus outbreak may affect the advice given on this page.


01   Self-harm resources and support

AFF is concerned about a potential increase in self-harming behaviour amongst Service children and young people. So we’ve provided some links to support and resources for our families who may be experiencing this issue.

Self-harm is when someone hurts themself on purpose. They usually do this as a result of another problem such as feeling anxious, depressed, stressed or bullied and they often do not feel there is any other way of dealing with these issues. Self-harm is very common behaviour in young people and affects around one in 12 people, including 10% of 15 to 16-year-olds.

If you would like to discuss any issues you are experiencing with a loved one self-harming please contact Karen Ross on

The MOD has produced a guide: Keeping Children Safe Advice and Ideas.

Organisations providing information and support:

Childline – children and young people under 19 can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem they have:  24/7 helpline: 0800 1111

Family Lives

Mind –

Minding Your Head – provides a directory of support in Northern Ireland:


The Mix has support available for under children and young people under 25:

The Spark – support for self-harming in Scotland:

Samaritans – children, young people and their parents can contact Samaritans at any time if they need to talk:  24/7 helpline: 116 123 or email:

Why I started to cut myself | BBC Newsbeat – a short film describing self-harm:

YoungMinds – has information on self-harming for children and young people:  and for parents:

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02   Children’s mental health and emotional wellbeing support

There are several initiatives supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing, some of these are:

Support for Service children and Young People

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03   Supporting Children’s Mental Health in Schools and Colleges

The Government’s Green Paper for Transforming children and young people’s mental health, was published in 2017 and detailed proposals for expanding access to mental health provision for children and young people.

These proposals were focused on providing additional support in schools and colleges and reducing treatment waiting times. There was a 13-week public consultation and as a result the Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education published its Response to the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Green Paper Consultation.

NHS England and NHS Improvement is now leading the delivery of two of the programme’s main commitments:

  • Establishing new Mental Health Support Teams (MHSTs) that are being delivered together with the Department for Education. MHSTs are intended to provide early intervention for some mental health and emotional wellbeing issues, such as mild to moderate anxiety but also to help school or college staff to provide a ‘whole school approach’ to mental health and wellbeing. The MHSTs will act as a link with local children and young people’s mental health services, supervised by NHS staff.
  • There will be a trialling of a four-week waiting time for access to specialist NHS children and young people’s mental health services, building on the expansion of NHS services already being undertaken.

For more information, click here.

AFF is one stakeholder that has met with the DPHSC and DfE teams involved with this work, to ensure that the specific needs of  Service children are understood and considered when developing this provision.

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04   Post Natal Depression (PND)

It is estimated that more than 1 in 10 women suffer from a mental health illness during the perinatal period (during pregnancy and one year after birth).

AFF has received several enquiries from women suffering from perinatal mental health issues who do not feel they are receiving the required support from the chain of command or from NHS services.

Sound familiar? Contact Karen Ross at so that we can investigate this further.

You may also be interested in participating in the King’s Centre for Military Health Research  (KCMHR) The Wellbeing of Women During and After Pregnancy (WoW) Study and for more information click here.

Normal mood changes or something more serious?

Pregnancy and childbirth are life changing events for both parents. During the first week after childbirth, many women can experience a low mood and feel mildly depressed at a time when they expect they should feel happy after having a baby, this can be referred to as the “Baby blues”. These feeling are probably due to the sudden hormonal and chemical changes that take place in your body after childbirth.

During this time, it is common for many women to feel tearful, irritable, find it difficult to sleep and have a lack of appetite. However, these symptoms should improve after a few days; if they do not you may be developing postnatal depression (PND).

Don’t feel frightened or guilty about having PND

If you think that you, or someone you know, may have PND, the following organisations can offer treatment and support.

Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA)

MMHA’s campaign, Everyone’s Business, is asking that women in the UK who are experiencing perinatal mental health illness receive the care they and their families need.

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05   Togetherall

Togetherall (formerly Big White Wall) works with the MOD and the NHS to deliver support services for all serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families 16+. They are experienced in supporting the Armed Forces, veterans and the wider military community with a range of issues including stress, anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, family & relationships, alcoholism, bereavement and adjusting to civilian life after the Armed Forces.

Togetherall provides a combination of anonymous services including monitored community support, guided support, courses, self- help programmes and advice. It’s completely anonymous so there is no fear of stigma and their trained wall guides (counsellors) are on hand 24/7. The support of others experiencing similar issues is proven as a highly effective early intervention tool especially amongst a population who find it hard to talk about their mental health.

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06   Army Welfare Service

The AWS Personal Support teams are both trained military and civilian Army Welfare Workers and Casualty Key Workers. Their role is to help, and support married or single Service personnel and their families by providing a confidential, non-discriminatory, professional and specialised welfare service.

The AWS team can assist with a range of issues such as problems with relationships, substance abuse and mental health concerns, as well as assisting with problems arising from deployment and disability.

Army Welfare Workers are trained to support, advise and encourage personnel to manage their problems more effectively. The AWS team can assist with a range of issues including relationship problems, substance abuse, mental health concerns, problems arising from deployment and disability.

To contact AWS Intake and Assessment Teams (IAT), call 01904 882053 or 882054 or email

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07   More resources and links to support and treatment for Service personnel and their families

Army Mental Resilience Training (MRT) Programme

The Army’s Mental Resilience Training (MRT) programme is part of the suite of products delivered by OPSMART. MRT is designed to help soldiers recognise and regulate the signs of stress and to help them prepare for difficult events and circumstances.


HeadFIT has been designed specifically for the Defence community. It provides 24/7 access to self-help tools that can enhance mood, drive and confidence, and help Defence people manage the stresses of everyday life.

Veterans Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) 

If you are transitioning out of the Army and think you or your partner/spouse may be struggling to cope, the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and the Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) can help.

The TILS is available for both serving personnel approaching discharge from the military, reservists and veterans with mental health issues. It is available across England with both TILS and CTS providing services by specialists in mental health who understand of the Armed Forces.

You can access support by contacting the services below directly, via referral from your GP or military charity.

For more information visit Veterans: NHS mental health services

Counselling Directory is a confidential service that can help people find mental health support. To use this website just enter your postcode and find a qualified counsellor or psychotherapist nearby, who specialises in the support you require.

The Ripple Pond

The Ripple Pond is a network of local, peer-led, self-help support groups for the family members of wounded, injured and sick Servicemen and women, Reservists and veterans.


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08   Defence People Mental Health & Wellbeing (DPMHW) Strategy 2017 -2022

The Defence People Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy is being delivered by four groups, one being the Mental Health and Wellbeing Steering Group (MHSG), and this group is accountable for the delivery of four main objectives:

  • Stigma reduction
  • Operational stress
  • Occupational stress
  • Suicide and self-harm.

These objectives are regularly monitored and fed back to the Defence People health and wellbeing board.

This strategy also outlines what the MOD has done so far, including:

  • establishing the Defence People health and wellbeing board
  • initiating a pilot for the ‘professional exchange programme’ between Departments of Community mental health and local NHS teams
  • providing access to Togetherall, an online confidential and anonymous resource
  • anti-stigma campaigns, such as ‘Don’t Bottle it up’ and ‘Time to Change’, which have seen an increase in the number of people seeking help
  • provision of resilience training for Service personnel.

Read this report in full here.

Mental health awareness wallet cards

Handy wallet cards promoting mental health awareness and wellbeing have been sent to UK garrisons, units and stations. The wallet cards feature a set of five signs associated with mental health, and is a simple self-check to help identify potential early signs of stress or poor mental health. The Combat Stress 24-hour mental health helpline for serving personnel and their families is provided on the reverse side.

For more information, contact Karen Ross at

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