Officers and soldiers have been urged to keep a close eye on each other’s mental wellbeing in a move to spot any problems early on – and provide help if needed.
The Army has stressed that preventing issues from snowballing is a priority while emphasising that nobody should be afraid to ask for assistance. The appeal comes ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September.
Just over 6,500 people in the UK civilian population took their own lives during 2018 – the last set of published figures.
Colonel Tim Boughton – from the Army’s Op Smart team – said troops should keep an eye on each other and act if colleagues were struggling. In highlighting the AID model, he explained that personnel should first ask their comrade if they suspected an issue and intervene if they felt there was a problem.
Finally, they needed to disclose if they believed their fellow soldier was at risk – making sure the chain of command was quickly informed. Colonel Boughton emphasised: “Ignoring the situation is not an option at a stage where the person might potentially harm either themselves or others.” “If you are suffering, please do not be afraid of telling someone who can support you. There are also groups, such as the Samaritans and Togetherall, which can help too.”
Elsewhere, a suite of tools promoted under the Op Smart banner could also help. Colonel Boughton added: “This initiative provides a through-life set of skills to promote and maintain mental fitness and resilience. It begins when a recruit or officer cadet joins the Service and continues throughout their career, as well as their transition to civilian life.”
See Defence Gateway, Defence Connect and the Army website for more information.
- Big White Wall, now Togetherall: www.togetherall.com.
- Combat Stress: 24-hour Mental Health Helpline for service personnel and their families (0800 323 4444); www.combatstress.org.uk.
Soldier. (2020) Don’t Suffer in Silence. Soldier: The Magazine of the British Army. September 2020, pp.10.