Afghanistan veteran with medals and child
19 September 2013

SSAFA joins Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid programme

SSAFA is part of initiative delivering specifically designed Mental Health First Aid training to the Armed Forces community.

SSAFA joins Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid programme

SSAFA will play a key role in the Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid (AFMHFA) programme, along with other veteran support organisations including Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion (RBL).

Mental Health First Aid is the mental health equivalent to First Aid training and provides participants with the skills and confidence to give crisis first aid for suicide and self harm. The recently announced Armed Forces programme is designed to meet the needs of our Serving and veteran communities.

As part of the programme, Mental Health First Aid England will be marking World Mental Health Day on 10 October 2013 by launching the first of its fully funded instructor training sessions. The first instructor course will be held in London, starting on 15 October 2013, followed by Edinburgh on 22 October and Durham on 13 November, then rolling across the regions in 2014/15.

Once trained, AFMHFA Instructors will be fully qualified to deliver the specifically designed Mental Health First Aid training to the wider Armed Forces community.

Harvey Tilley, Director of Client Services at SSAFA says, "At SSAFA we are increasingly helping younger veterans, many of whom are in their 20s and 30s. Requests for assistance are centred around help with the home, homelessness, accommodation and debt, often compounded by mental health issues. We very much welcome the roll out of the MHFA, specifically aimed at the armed forces community. This will be a fantastic resource for our Forces and their families – both serving and ex-serving.”

Poppy Jaman, CEO for Mental Health First Aid England says, “The launch of the Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid Instructor training comes at a pertinent time this year, with World Mental Health Day focusing on mental health in older people. Although servicemen and women of all ages experience mental ill health, there is a particular vulnerability amongst veterans who have come to the end of their military career and the impact this has on their mental health. We believe that by training a wide section of the Armed Forces community in Mental Health First Aid, lives will be saved and quality of life improved for the young and old.”

It is anticipated that by the summer of 2015 over 6,400 veterans and their families will have accessed training which will provide the mental health equivalent of first aid skills.

The course will train people to:

  • Increase their understanding of mental health
  • Increase their understanding of military culture
  • Increase their personal resilience
  • Spot the early signs of a mental health problem
  • Feel confident helping someone experiencing a problem
  • Provide help on a first aid basis
  • Help prevent someone from hurting themselves or others
  • Help stop a mental illness from getting worse
  • Help someone recover faster
  • Guide someone towards the right support
  • Reduce the stigma of mental health problems.

Find out more about the Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid programme and the instructor training courses.