ABF The Soldiers Charity

Supporting the battle against veteran mental health issues

Poor mental health is the leading cause of homelessness and deteriorates even further during these periods. It directly impacts on an individuals ability to live independently, gain employment and make positive life choices.

Homeless veterans are equally affected by mental health issues. However, this can be further complicated by issues unique to those that have served in the armed forces such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as well as difficulty adapting to family life or life outside of the forces.

It was for this reason that Amicus Trust piloted its Overcoming Veteran Homelessness: Mental Health project.The project has been given funding by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and with this help it will continue. The project now offers one-to-one support to homeless veterans in the towns in which they operate.

Amicus Trust found that many veterans were reluctant to admit a perceived weakness and ask for help elsewhere. This service breaks down the stigma that some veterans attach to mental health issues by providing a flexible one-to-one approach which can be delivered anywhere the client feels most comfortable. It can include talking therapy and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for those who may not seek support elsewhere.

“By putting the client at the helm of their own support we find individuals are more likely to enagage” Yasmine, Veteran Mental Health worker for Amicus explained. “We avoid excluding clients for missed appointments or complex needs such as self-medication and instead remain flexible, unjudgemental, and work towards overcoming these issues instead of excluding them for it.”

Providing support for mental health is about more than just immediate respite from mental health conditions, it can support individuals in overcoming long term issues that can impact on their future.

During the 12 month pilot project, outcomes included: • 70% of service users reporting improved mental health • 25% of service users have overcome alcohol / drug addiction • 50% of service users engaged with housing related services • 30% of service users undertook education, employment andvolunteering • 30% of service users moved on to independent living

The Overcoming Veteran Homelessness: Mental Health project offers a flexible service recognising the often complex needs of homeless veterans and supporting them in the development of the skills and resilience needed to understand and manage their own mental health, live independently and avoid future homelessness.

Brigadier (Ret’d) Robin Bacon, Chief of Staff for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity explained why they felt it was important to keep supporting the mental health project for veterans: “Mental health is a very important issue which needs to be handled carefully. Our charity is supportive of the tailored advice Amicus Trust’s project provides for each of their veteran clients. We are proud to support its work and look forward to hearing more positive stories which come out of all its efforts.”

CEO Janet Prince expresses her gratitude for the continued support from ABF The Soldiers’ Charity: “Without the support of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity, we would not be able to deliver such intensive mental health support to our veteran clients. The mental health project dovetails with the accommodation we provide. This holistic support offers individuals a chance to permanently progress from homelessness.”

If you are homeless, or know someone who is homeless, please call Amicus Trust on 01234 478578 for more information or visit www.amicustrust.org . For other services for veterans visit www.veteransgatway.org