More forces veterans seeking mental health help after Harry campaign
Increasing numbers of armed forces veterans and their families are seeking help to combat mental health issues following high-profile campaigning by the likes of Prince Harry, a charity has said.
Help for Heroes said take-up of its Hidden Wounds service has more than doubled since 2015, with nearly 70 new cases every month.
The charity said it had seen a particular spike in interest since Harry, along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, spoke of their mental health experiences through the Heads Together campaign last month.
Dr Vanessa Moulton, head of psychological wellbeing at Help for Heroes, said: "Stigma has long held service personnel, veterans and families back from accessing the support and guidance they need as they rebuild their lives.
"The statistics show that campaigns like Heads Together, and support from high-profile individuals, can make a significant difference to people's lives.
"Help for Heroes would like to thank Prince Harry, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and all those helping to break down stigma by empowering the armed forces community to open up about their mental health, if and when people are struggling."
Help for Heroes said an average of 67 veterans and family members are contacting the Hidden Wounds team every month. This compares with an average of 32 in 2015 and 41 in 2016.
Last month, Harry spoke about his problems coping with his mother's death, revealing in a Daily Telegraph interview that he spent nearly 20 years ''not thinking'' about it and eventually got help after two years of ''total chaos''.
The prince later said it was ''only right'' he aired his experiences as he wanted to encourage others to ''smash that stigma'' around talking about mental health.
The 32-year-old was 12 when Diana, Princess of Wales was killed in a car crash in Paris on August 31 1997.
Harry, his older brother and sister-in-law have all been involved in the Heads Together campaign, which encourages the public to come forward and speak about their mental health issues, or to be a sympathetic ear for someone in need.
Dr Moulton said: "We saw a significant spike in January (81 contacts to Hidden Wounds), following our Blue Monday campaign and Prince Harry's visit to Help for Heroes Tedworth House Recovery Centre in Wiltshire to find out more about the Hidden Wounds service.
"In March, there was the King's College London mental health conference that Prince Harry spoke at and in April the Heads Together campaign and Virgin Money London Marathon - all of which contributed to an overall increase in referrals."