Health and Fitness

This Clock Aims To Remove Stigma Of Speaking About Mental Health

Help For Heroes has projected the average number of years it takes veterans to seek for mental health support on to the Tower of London.

A military charity has used iconic London buildings to raise awareness on veterans suffering in silence.

Help For Heroes has projected the average number of years it takes veterans to come forward for mental health support on to buildings, such as the Tower of London.

It follows a new survey which shows former service personnel are taking up to four years before asking for help on mental health issues. 

The results reveal that 28% believe civilian services will not understand or support them, whilst 25% fear of being treated differently by friends and 19% fear being treated differently by family.

On Blue Monday, 21 January, the 'Stigma Clock' was switched on by England Rugby World Cup winner Matt Dawson.

It was part of a campaign to lower stigma on mental health for former servicemen and women.

One veteran who was affected by stigma was Mark Beckham, who kept silent about his mental health for nearly two decades.

Mr Beckham served with the Royal Anglian Regiment and was deeply affected by what he witnessed while serving in Kosovo in 1999.

It was in 2016 that he says he reached a breaking point:

"In the military, you’ve got your pride and you don’t want to be seen as a weak individual," he said.

"That’s why a lot of the guys don’t seek help – they don’t want to be seen as a weak link in the chain.

"It’s a difficult pill to swallow, to sit there and admit you’ve got something wrong. I found it very hard."

Tower of London stigma clock

Mr Beckham now hopes more people will start speaking out about mental health: "For me, 16 years of inner destruction passed before I had help.

"I wouldn’t want anyone else to suffer so long. I cannot thank the public enough for recognising this and getting behind it."

Karen Mead, Head of Psychological Wellbeing at Help for Heroes said: "Mark’s story is the reality for thousands of military personnel.

"Veterans are not accessing mental health support when they need it and we believe this needs to change."

The projection was shown across the capital, highlighting the four-year wait, asking the public to share, donate or fundraise in support of wounded, injured and sick veterans.