A LOCAL mental health trust (CWP) is appealing to war veterans in Western Cheshire to help shape the mental health services on offer to them and their former colleagues in the region.
Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s (CWP) primary care improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) team are asking former service men and women to participate in a focus group to assist with the development of mental health services for ex-military personnel.
Janet Foster, clinical lead for CWP’s IAPT service in Western Cheshire, said: “We are actively encouraging former service men and women to get involved and help shape the support available to ex-military personnel.”
Gary Cameron, director of Military Mental Health CIC, knows the devastating affects that post war mental health issues can have. Upon leaving the army in 1994, Gary felt ready to go straight into work and secured a good job with the NHS. While at the time he thought that this was the perfect start to his new life, he now appreciates it was a step too far.
“I felt really anxious about being in busy areas because of some of my experiences as a soldier. Getting public transport and walking around the hospital I worked in used to panic me, so much so that I soon found I couldn’t make the journey or enter the hospital without having a few drinks first.”
Gary became dependent on alcohol to get him through each day, his addiction lost him his job at the hospital, and this cycle was repeated twice more before Gary eventually lost his home too.
“It took me seven years to recognise that I may have a mental health problem. Having been institutionalised as a soldier and constantly been expected to portray a macho image, I had found it really difficult to accept that something was not right, let alone ask for help.”
Gary finally admitted he was not coping and went to his local mental health service who gave him the support that he desperately needed.
The focus group will meet on Friday, September 30, at 10.30am. For more information about becoming involved or to speak anonymously with a member of staff, please call Janet Foster 01244 397575 or Sue Owens 01244 362106 or visit the trust website at www.cwp.nhs.uk.