Mental Health Awareness Week 2021 takes place from May 10th -16th.

The theme of the nationwide campaign this year is “Nature”, highlighting the benefits that being out in nature can bring to supporting mental health. Mental Health Awareness Week is led by the Mental Health Foundation which aims to help people to protect, understand and sustain their mental health. This awareness week allows people to talk about their mental health and have conversations that may prevent them from becoming unwell.

What are the mental health problems that affect veterans?

There are three common mental health issues most commonly suffered by veterans: PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), depression and traumatic brain injury (TBI). PTSD occurs in some veterans who have experienced military combat, assault and disasters and often presents as poor sleeping, panic attacks and anger, and can often lead to drug and alcohol abuse. The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study suggested PTSD was 15 times more likely to occur in veterans than in civilians.

Depression is more than ‘feeling down’ and is more likely to leave people feeling unable to cope with daily life, struggling to complete daily tasks and find socialising very difficult. The 2014 JAMA Psychiatry study found that veterans were five times more likely to suffer from depression than civilians.

TBI is a result of a significant blow to the head and disrupts life with severe headaches, fatigue, drowsiness and issues with low mood and mood swings.

How does Launchpad help?

Here at Launchpad, our staff work with a wide network of partners that provide mental health and wellbeing support.

Some residents have more complex needs than others and may need multi-agency or medical support for their issues. Launchpad encourages residents to talk about problems they are experiencing, and to take part in activities that support their mental health and wellbeing.

While many have felt the double blow of poor mental health and isolation in the times of lockdown during Covid-19, they are encouraged to get involved in social activities such as day trips, group cycling and skills-based activities such as baking.

As restrictions now allow us to travel for physical activity, our residents are encouraged again to get out in nature and take part in group activities like fishing.

Earlier this year, the charity secured £3,530 from the Angling Trust as part of Sport England’s Tackling Inequalities Fund to organise a series of fishing trips, available to all 33 residents living at Avondale House in Newcastle, to participate in throughout the year.

It is proven that fishing reduces stress and anxiety, improves physical health, mental wellbeing and social isolation and it will contribute to their recovery.

In addition, funding has also been secured thanks to a grant of £9,100 awarded by the British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) to set up a cycle club at Speke House. The funding is part of its annual Big Salute campaign and the cycle club will allow residents to combat challenging mental health and improve their wellbeing through physical activity, providing greater opportunities to socialise.

The funding will be used to purchase bikes, storage units, clothing and equipment and staff and residents will be organising bike rides throughout the year to encourage residents to get outdoors and keep active.

David Shaw, CEO and co-founder of Launchpad, said:

“Enabling veterans to take part in social, sporting and skills activities brings them enjoyment and helps them tackle mental health issues. We are proud that our excellent staff and partner organisations make these opportunities available to the veterans.”

To find out more about Mental Health Awareness week, please visit: