Help for Heroes has launched a Recovery College, the first of its type in the UK, to meet the needs of wounded veterans and their families…

Recovery Colleges, which are based on the principles of hope, opportunity and control, already exist around the UK and help people with mental health issues gain the skills and confidence to manage their own recovery journeys.

Help for Heroes worked closely with NHS providers to understand how they operate and to tailor their Recovery College to best meet the needs of wounded veterans and their families. The focus is on enabling them to be physically and mentally well, to feel connected to and spend quality time with family and friends in their community and to lead productive and purposeful lives.

Adjusting to life outside the military can be tough, especially whilst also learning to manage an illness or injury. All courses at the Help for Heroes Recovery College are designed to give students knowledge and skills to manage their own physical and mental well-being, so that they can move forward in their lives with confidence.

Terms cover different parts of the recovery journey; term one is called ‘react and adjust’, term two ‘discover and prepare’ and term three ‘re-balance and thrive’. Courses cover subjects such as ‘What is Recovery’, ‘The Art of Sleep’ and ‘Wellness Action Planning’, and ‘Living well with Anxiety’.

All courses are co-created by recovery staff, together with veterans who have been through or who are going through the recovery process and their families. The challenges faced by those leaving the military due to illness or injury are often complex, and those who have already embarked on a recovery journey often have the best insight into what will help others.

The charity held a pilot term for a small group of students between May and August. This model will be adjusted in the coming months, creating an educational programme which will give students the resources they need to gain confidence for the future and reach their recovery goals.

Colin Reed is one of those who took part in the pilot term at Tedworth House Recovery Centre in Wiltshire. Colin is a course facilitator, who is using his own experience of recovery to help the charity deliver its’ courses. Colin said: “I’m using my experience of recovery to help others that follow, so that my experiences and mental health snags can help inform and shape future recovery plans and programmes.

“It makes the content and process authentic, and although it will likely continue to evolve and change, the foundations of the Recovery College will be based on the first-hand experiences, knowledge and the positive attitudes of those that want to see it succeed and add value to the lives of others”.