Being able to pay rent and bills and having a good support network are much more important for people with mental health challenges at Christmas than being given presents and cards, according to new research for employment charity The Poppy Factory…

Yet more than 4 in 5 of the 2,098 UK adults surveyed by YouGov believe it would be difficult for someone living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to stay in paid work for 12 months or longer, potentially making it difficult to stay on top of their finances.

The poll was carried out for The Poppy Factory, which helps wounded, injured and sick veterans back into sustained and meaningful work in their communities. It sought to gauge public understanding of the challenges faced by those who have PTSD and who may struggle to find a new role in the civilian world.

Of those surveyed, 83 per cent felt that having supportive family, friends or co-workers are important for those with mental health conditions at Christmas. Being able to pay rent and water, rent, electricity and gas bills was next on the list of priorities during the festive season, according to 3 in 5 of those polled.

The research was commissioned as part of The Poppy Factory’s Working With PTSD campaign, which shows that with the right support, someone living with PTSD can go on to enjoy meaningful and sustainable employment.

Deirdre Mills, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said: “We know from experience that those who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder can find it very challenging to stay in a job. But with the right support over the long term, they often become the most dedicated, passionate and successful workers.

“Four fifths of the ex-Forces men and women who are helped by The Poppy Factory have mental health conditions and many have complex cases of PTSD. Yet we have been able to help more than 1,000 veterans back into work across the UK since 2010.

“By supporting The Poppy Factory’s Working With PTSD campaign, you can help these men and women secure the positive futures they deserve.”

Maria Theresa, who broke her back while serving in the British Army and was later diagnosed with PTSD, said: “After being discharged from the Army I worked for IBM in the UK, Europe and the USA and I performed very highly, but I was distracting myself from the past. When I took redundancy, I crashed.

“I asked for help from The Poppy Factory in 2015. I’ve now achieved my ultimate goal, which is working on the water teaching young people to sail. This is the kind of thing I want to do for the rest of my working life.”

At least 2 in 5 of those surveyed by YouGov felt that having a paid job is important for those with mental health challenges during Christmas. This is alongside the need for traditional festive activities like having social events to go to or being given presents and cards.

Just five per cent said it would not be difficult for someone with PTSD to stay in work for a year or longer, compared to 38 per cent who felt it would be very difficult and 47 per cent who said it would be fairly difficult. The other 11 per cent said they did not know.

Yet almost half of those who took part in the survey said they had worked alongside someone who they knew had a mental health condition, and nearly three quarters had heard of post-traumatic stress disorder and knew how it might affect someone.

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