Royal Air Force veterans and family members, ages 16-64, are receiving help to fight anxiety and depression, thanks to a new partnership between Anxiety UK and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund…

According to a recent report[1] published by the RAF Benevolent Fund, 11 per cent of working age RAF veterans reported feeling depressed. More broadly, 14 per cent of working age RAF veterans reported experiencing psychological difficulties in a one year period.

The RAF Benevolent Fund, the RAF’s leading welfare charity, is partnering with Anxiety UK to provide specialised support for veterans and their family members, age 16-64, who are experiencing a number of psychological troubles including depression, anxiety, low mood, panic attacks, stress, low self-esteem, or low confidence.

Through this partnership, Anxiety UK will provide those who have served in the RAF and their families, of working age, with a variety of services and resources including:

  • A dedicated helpline and email services to provide emotional support
  • Self-help materials and annual membership to Anxiety UK
  • Free counselling sessions for those experiencing anxiety and/or depression and meeting eligibility criteria

Those in need of support should call 0844 334 1550[2] or email[email protected]

Anxiety UK’s Chief Executive Nicky Lidbetter said: “We’re extremely pleased to announce this new partnership with the RAF Benevolent Fund and to be able to support their beneficiaries by providing timely assistance and interventions for those affected by anxiety and anxiety based depression.”

Former C-130 Hercules pilot Martin Oxborrow’s RAF career came to an end when he suffered from severe anxiety and panic attacks which manifested itself in a fear of heights and flying. Martin, now 63, eventually sought help for his mental illness and is urging others in the RAF family to speak up and do the same.

“Obviously having a fear of heights and panic attacks was a real problem for a Hercules pilot!” says Martin. “At first I tried to carry on flying but I was completely stressed out and it started to affect my abilities. I was offered a lot of support from the RAF but it was hard to admit something was wrong. I knew I couldn’t carry on in my RAF career – which was devastating as it’s all I’d ever wanted to do – and I was eventually discharged.

“I think this partnership with Anxiety UK is so important. I would urge anybody who has even the slightest inkling that something is wrong to use this service and get the help they need. Talk to someone, find treatment and keep fighting.”

Air Commodore Paul Hughesdon, Director of Welfare & Policy for the RAF Benevolent Fund, added: “The RAF Benevolent Fund is delighted to be working with Anxiety UK to address a clear need within the RAF Family. There’s no need for people to fear asking for help or trying to cope on their own. The services we’re providing in partnership with Anxiety UK really can make an incredible difference to those in need.”

At present, anxiety affects 15 per cent of the UK population, with 1 in 10 adults experiencing a disabling anxiety disorder at some point in their life[3]. While 2.6% of the population experience depression and 4.7% have anxiety problems, as many as 9.7% suffer mixed depression and anxiety, making it the most prevalent mental health problem in the population as a whole.[4]

[1] Meeting the Needs of the RAF Family, 2015

[2] Telephone support available Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5:30pm. Call charges will apply.

[3] Ehlers, A. ‘Anxiety disorders: Challenging negative thinking.’ Quoted in the Wellcome Trust Reviews, 1997

[4]www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-statistics/anxiety-statistics/