The news coverage regarding the invasion of Ukraine by Russian Forces is affecting the mental health of some of our veteran community.
It may be triggering difficult thoughts and feelings, and could be re-traumatising some veterans or worsening conditions like PTSD. Veterans’ families may also be impacted by the news from Ukraine as they do what they can to support their loved ones who may be suffering the effects of trauma.
To all the UK veterans and their families affected by current events in Ukraine, we are here to support you.
Support for veterans
We understand that, as a result of the news surrounding Ukraine, many military personnel – past and present - may be feeling on edge right now.
It’s natural to experience all sorts of emotions, and some may feel overwhelming. However, if your threat dial is up, you feel on high alert or ‘sparking’, or you notice your anxiety levels feel high right now, this can have a negative impact on your mental health.
We encourage all veterans (and their loved ones) to call our 24-hour Helpline if their mental health has been impacted by what is happening in Ukraine.
You can call our free, confidential Helpline on 0800 138 1619.
If you are in an emergency situation and need urgent support please call the emergency services via 999 or the Samaritans via 116 123.
It's good to talk
If you're a veteran experiencing feelings of anxiety, guilt, anger, or if you are being persistently self-critical, please seek support.
Help is available. We specialise in veterans’ complex mental health needs resulting from military trauma and our Helpline is available 24-hours a day for free, confidential advice and guidance. Please don't struggle in silence.
Advice for coping with news of Ukraine
Many people, civilians and veterans alike will have been moved by the situation in Ukraine. Some have no doubt felt compelled to support Ukraine in a variety of ways and veterans and trained operatives may feel compelled to respond to an internal call to arms. Below are some tips on how veterans and loved ones can support themselves with these feelings.
How veterans and their loved ones can support each other at this time:
1. Make time to talk. Encourage the veteran to share what they have seen and heard about the Ukraine situation
2. Empathise and validate feelings that this mobilises for yourself and the veteran, the memories it stirs, and remind yourself and the veteran that this is normal, the brain works by associations and categorisation
3. Remind yourself and the veteran that it is not your/their problem to solve. Governments and service personnel all over the world are working hard to find a peaceful resolution
4. Help the veteran to explore alternative ways of helping e.g. fundraising for humanitarian aid, donating items of clothing/toys
Other ways you can support your mental health at this time:
- Acknowledge the situation and how you feel about it, even if the emotions are challenging or feel overwhelming.
- Talk about how you're feeling with someone you trust.
- Reach out for professional support if you need it - our Helpline is always available 24/7 on 0800 138 1619 The team are free to contact and available to provide confidential advice and support. If you prefer, you can text 07537 173683 (standard charges may apply for texts) or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- We also have a variety of online self-help guides that cover a range of mental health difficulties including PTSD, Anxiety, Anger and Depression. All these guides can be found at https://selfhelp.combatstress.org.uk
- Practise self-care and put your wellbeing first – we have a range of holistic self-care tips, which you can find at https://combatstress.org.uk/our-top-tips-reduce-anxiety while these tips were created to support you during COVID-19, they are just as helpful during any difficult situation.
- Look out for those around you who might be struggling too.
- For support on talking to children about the situation in Ukraine, BBC Bitesize offer a variety of tips to help, click here to read more.
Tips for supporting Ukraine:
- Donate clothing
- Donate funds to humanitarian aid
- Volunteer at humanitarian charities
For veterans and family members. Find out about our services and get the help you need.
Developed by the clinical experts at Combat Stress, these resources aim to provide guidance and support to former military personnel experiencing mental health issues.