This section signposts mental health support for RAF personnel, including Reservists, and their families, and resources for sleep problems, anxiety and stress management.

Suicide prevention support

Mental health emergencies are serious – if you feel like your life is at risk, you may attempt suicide or you have seriously harmed yourself call 999.

Alternatively, in a non-emergency situation you can call an urgent mental health helpline for support for you, your child or someone you care for:

Find out the measures Defence are taking to reduce suicide and better support those affected by it.

Mental health support for RAF Service Personnel

A DMS Medical Centre GP should be the first point of contact for Service personnel and mobilised Reservists that need support with mental health. If required, you may be referred to the Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH). DCMH is staffed by psychiatrists, mental health nurses, clinical psychologists and mental health social workers and provide a wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments; medication, psychological therapies, social support and a change of environment where appropriate.

Log of HeadFIT for Life

HeadFIT for Life provides tools and activities to improve your drive, confidence and mood that can be easily incorporated into your daily routine. Designed for Defence personnel, launched by the Ministry of Defence and The Royal Foundation, with the aim to help you establish healthy habits, unlock potential and reach your optimal wellbeing.

headspace logo

Headspace is a ‘gym membership for the mind’ providing access to guided mindfulness exercises, delivered straight to your phone or browser, in bite-sized 10-minute sessions – perfect for busy schedules. The RAF Benevolent Fund is offering all RAF personnel access to Headspace for free.

Togetherall logo

Togetherall offers free and confidential online mental health and well-being services, including self help programmes and online community support. All service personnel, veterans and their families can access Togetherall for free through their partnership with the Ministry of Defence and Help for Heroes.

RAFBF logo

The RAF Benevolent Fund offer Listening and Counselling services to RAF personnel (including Reservists) and their dependent family members. Support is provided for a range of difficulties, including: anxiety and/or depression, bereavement and loneliness and isolation. Visit the RAF Benevolent Fund for more details.

SSAFA Logo

SSAFA work alongside the RAF, but outside the Chain of Command, to provide a Personal Support and Social Work Service with emotional and practical support for Service personnel and their families, both Regulars and reserves. Phone: 03000 111 723 Email: [email protected]

RAF Mental Health Network

The RAF Mental Health Network is a diverse group of volunteers who care about the mental health of the RAF community. It includes representatives from across the RAF who have a shared goal: End mental health stigma.  View the ‘Thinking out Loud’ Newsletter >.

Support for RAF Reservists and Veterans

  • The Reserves Mental Health Programme (RMHP) – free advice, for current members of the UK volunteer and regular reserves who have been demobilised since 1 January 2003.

  • Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme (VRMHP) is available to Reservists who have mobilised since 2003, are eligible for support for operationally related mental health problems. More at GOV.UK >

  • Op COURAGE: the Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service is a NHS mental health specialist service designed to help serving personnel due to leave the military, reservists, armed forces veterans and their families. The service is supported by trained professionals who are from, or have experience of working with, the Armed Forces community. This service can help you get the right type of specialist care if you’re finding life difficult after leaving the military. More at NHS.UK>

Mental health support for families

The NHS provides mental healthcare for family members. In the first instance you should make an appointment to visit your GP who may then refer you to mental health support services. There are, however, some mental health services that you can self-refer to. To find out more about these services and how to access them, visit the NHS website.

Support and information

  • British Red Cross – the Red Cross has a dedicated page which provides information and wellbeing support for adults and children.

  • Contact is a group of charities working with the NHS and the MOD.  They want to make it easier for the Armed Forces community to find mental health support. Get support visit Contact.

  • Every Mind Matters – an NHS website providing wellbeing tips, mental health guidance and information on supporting others.

  • Hidden Wounds service can provide support for family members of SP who are feeling anxious, depressed or angry. They can also provide support with managing alcohol consumption. Support is available by phone, Skype or face to face.

  • Military Mental Health Helpline (delivered by Combat Stress) provides help, advice and support for  personnel and their families. Call: 0800 323 4444, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

  • MindEd For Families – safe and reliable advice about young people’s mental health for parents and carers.

  • The RAF Association (RAFA) are offering free mental wellbeing courses for non-serving members of the RAF community across the UK. Visit RAFA for more information and to book a free place.

  • RAF’s Serving families page has a wealth information including what to do in a family emergency and how to find your local HIVE

  • Rethink Mental Illness – information and support networks for those affected by mental illness.

  • SSAFA FORCESLINE is a free and confidential helpline independent of the chain of command, providing advice and information for serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families. Call: 0800 731 4880, weekdays 9.00 am – 5.30 pm.

  • The Warrior Programme is an intensive personal development programme that teaches you techniques to help you manage the negative emotions that are stopping you from leading the life you want. It will help you to increase your self confidence and self-esteem, improve the way you communicate and manage relationships and achieve your goals.

Support in Scotland

  • Breathing Space – a free, confidential, phone and webchat service those over the age of 16 experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety. Call: 0800 83 85 87.

  • Health in Mind – a pathway of services to support you with a range of mental health problems including anxiety, depression and the impact of trauma.

  • Mind to Mind – practical resources and advice for anyone struggling with stress, anxiety and low mood or having trouble sleeping, managing debt or dealing with grief.

Support in Wales

Support in Northern Ireland

Support for Young People

  • Childline – there for all young people, no matter what you are going through.

  • The Mix – the UK’s leading support service for young people. On hand to provide support with mental health and beyond, including money, homelessness, finding a job, break-ups and drugs.

  • Young Minds – a mental health charity for children, young people and their parents, making sure all young people can get the mental health support they need.

Services for Families from the RAF Benevolent Fund

The RAF Benevolent Fund (RAFBF) provides a range of services for RAF families for when life gets a bit challenging:

  • access to a 24-hour emotional support helpline: a trained counsellor is available 24hrs a day, 7 days a week.
  • access to Headspace for free for the partners and spouses of RAF personnel. Headspace is a ‘gym membership for the mind’ providing access to guided mindfulness exercises, delivered straight to your phone or browser, in bite-sized 10-minute sessions – perfect for busy schedules.
  • access to a Listening and Counselling Service for RAF personnel and their partners. Support is available for a range of difficulties, including: anxiety and/or depression, bereavement and loneliness and isolation.
  • access to a Children and Young Persons Counselling Service for children and young people aged 11 to 18 from RAF families. It can offer support for a range of wellbeing and mental health issues such as anxiety, behavioural issues, bullying and academic pressure.

Support for sleeping difficulties

The NHS and Every Mind Matters websites have dedicated advice pages for anyone with difficulty sleeping. For those who need more personalised support, visit SleepFoundation.org. In addition, with the Headspace membership, which is free through the RAF Benevolent Fund, there are tips on sleep hygiene and tools and techniques to help you relax the mind and body. The Mental Health Foundation has also produced a guide called “How to sleep better” which is downloadable.

Support for Anxiety

The NHS website has a calming breathing exercise to help with stress and anxiety. The Anxiety UK website has a wealth of information about anxiety conditions and also where/how to get help. They have also developed advice and support online via their website blogs.

Support for Stress

According to The Mental Health FoundationStress is a feeling of being under abnormal pressure. This pressure can come from different aspects of your day to day life such as an increased workload, a transitional period, an argument you have with your family or new and existing financial worries. You may find that it has a cumulative effect, with each stressor building on top of one another.

How we can help

If you or a member of your family is experiencing mental health or emotional wellbeing issues, or if you are not receiving the support that you feel you need, please contact us – we have a health and additional needs specialist to provide guidance and signposting.