Westminster City Council has been awarded funds to help improve Armed Forces mental health training and improve wider community awareness in central London.
The funding, from the government’s Community Covenant Fund, will provide for a member of staff with the knowledge and expertise to champion health and wellbeing amongst serving personnel, veterans as well as in support of their families in the borough.
It will mean a programme of mental health first aid training (both general and specific to armed forces personnel experiences) being provided to relevant front-line staff in the Council, and in partner organisations in Westminster.
Cllr Rachael Robathan, Westminster Armed Forces Champion said: “Men and women who serve in our Armed Forces often face unique risks and pressures while they are abroad and away from their families. It is only when they are home that issues such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression become apparent. So it is important for the Council to repay in kind those who protect us by providing them support and access to our services and facilities. Helping in this way forms an important part of our commitment through the Community Covenant to our service personnel, and ensuring mental health issues are tackled in the wider community.”
Mental health is an increasing issue for both civilian and armed forces communities across the country. The organisation Combat Stress report that 1 in 25 members of the regular Armed Forces personnel will experience mental health issues following deployment, and 1 in 5 veterans are likely to experience a common mental health illness (such as depression, anxiety or substance misuse) caused or aggravated by their service.
In the general civilian population, 1 adult in 6 will experience a common mental health disorder during their lifetime. Improving awareness of mental health, and ensuring people can access high-quality treatment and care, is a priority of Westminster City Council for both our armed forces and civilian communities.
As a signatory to the Community Covenant, Westminster will continue to work hard to raise awareness within the wider community about serving personnel and the wider military community in the city.