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


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
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

Back to top

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

Back to top

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. 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.

For more information, see Mental health support in schools and colleges and faster access to NHS care.

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.

Back to top

04   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.

Back to top

05   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

Back to top

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

Op COURAGE – The Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Service

Op COURAGE was launched on 4 March 2021 and is the new name for the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS). The new name has been developed by NHS England and NHS Improvement Armed Forces Patient and Public Voice following feedback from the Armed Forces community to make it easier for those leaving the military and veterans to get help.

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.

Counselling Directory

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.


Back to top

07   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.

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

Back to top

What our families say about AFF

“AFF - just a thank you for all that you do!!”

“What an awesome organisation”

“Thank you so much Army Families Federation!”

Find out more
8,840enquiries received in 2021
12,000+followers on Facebook
40,517unique website views during May
9,500+followers on Twitter