The Elephant in the Room

Posted on October 1, 2018

It is very concerning when organisational culture results in the worsening of the health and wellbeing of those who serve it.

Working with the serving and veterans’ communities, I have had the pleasure of meeting some great people who are addressing Mental Health issues long after they first manifested, and the recurring theme is that they did not address it early enough because they believe their training gave them an invincibility:  Mental Health like teeth needs regular appraisal and work to keep it strong.

The Military training instils real mental resilience and strength and then puts it to the test.  There are many reasons people then don’t address any manifesting issues: macho culture, head-in-the-sand, impact on promotion, stigma to name but a few, however, we need to have a See Change in this approach if we expect the Public Perception of our Serving Heroes to change.

I was recently honoured to be invited to attend the ImRoC Recovery College Conference and see what they are achieving with a different approach to Mental Health recovery.  ImRoC  – Implementing Recovery through Organisational Change – has supported in the development of a growing number of Recovery Colleges around the World that have some basic principles:

  • Educational setting as opposed to a clinical one – removing the sense of establishment.
  • Student/Lecturer relationship – Learning rather than curing.
  • Peer led support – peers that have “Lived experience”.
  • Programme to Understand, Learning about the condition, Learning to Live with the condition (coping mechanisms that work) and then Moving on.
  • Ongoing access to the Recovery College.
  • Prospect of becoming a Peer Trainer to help others.

We are currently working with our Forces4Change Partner, Solent NHS Trust, and then the Solent Mind and Solent Recovery College to develop course elements specific to the serving and veteran communities.

This is a pilot with the Solent Recovery College and will hopefully be live in the next few months, however, at the Recovery College Conference, there was interest from other faculties on getting involved in the development and trialling of the content of the course elements.

We are at the early stages, but what has really struck me is the passion, commitment, drive and desire to seek positive outcomes for the thousands of veterans and serving personnel who are currently carrying an issue and struggling in silence because of the culture of the environment in which they have been formed.

In closing, I want to say that I am not against the culture of the Military in anyway;  I am still living it 20 years after departing.  I am wholly for the “train hard fight easy” ethos.

I now want to see a recognition by the Military that Mental Health is not a taboo, nor is it a completely debilitating illness.  It is however, something that needs to be talked about, something to be addressed and something to be kept in the open to ensure people are supported in the same way as if they had a minor physical ailment.  De-stigmatising mental illness would engender less issues in later life if it is not ignored.

THAT, people, would be the positive outcome I would like to see.

It REALLY is OK not to be OK!

Finally, I wanted to publicly thank Solent NHS Trust, Solent Mind and the Solent Recovery College for their unswerving support in our endeavours.  A special thank you to Toni King for her work and best wishes for your new start.


At what point should you start the Resettlement Process?

  • More than 2 years before you depart? (40%, 6 Votes)
  • 2 years before departure? (33%, 5 Votes)
  • Around 6 months before last day? (13%, 2 Votes)
  • 12 Months prior to departure? (13%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 15

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