Bonfire night can be an especially difficult time for many combat veterans with mental health issues, with the loud bangs, bright lights and strong smells from fireworks causing serious anguish…

Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health, is offering tips to help former servicemen and women and their families cope with the sudden noises and flashes associated with fireworks.

The tips are:

  • Plan your evening
  • Identify your triggers
  • Breathe
  • Stay grounded
  • It’s good to talk

The tips have been compiled by the Combat Stress clinical team and you can find further details on each tip, including some helpful videos from Joint Head of Psychological Therapies Dr Elaine Johnston, on their website and social media channels.

Sue Freeth, Chief Executive at Combat Stress, said: “The noise of fireworks around Bonfire Night or other celebrations such as New Year can be difficult to deal with for veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder. The tips from our clinical team can help those who struggle to cope with the sudden noises and crowds of fireworks parties and allow veterans and their families to enjoy a traditional Bonfire Night.

“The noise, lights and smells of fireworks can be similar to those of gunfire, but it is important to remember they are different. By focussing on the differences, veterans can learn to tolerate fireworks. Preparation is very important to manage anxieties during the fireworks season and we hope that our expert tips will help veterans feel less worried.”

The Combat Stress 24-hour Helpline provides free confidential advice and support. Veterans and their loved ones can call 0800 138 1619, text 07537 404 719 or visit to find out more.