Mental Health

Veterans Virtually Share Mental Health Experiences With Students

The project has gone virtual so it can keep running during the coronavirus pandemic.

Veterans with physical and mental health issues have been sharing their stories online with school children to help them talk more openly about mental health.

The project, 'Making Generation R', is run by the charity Blesma and normally sees veterans visiting schools. 

However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the talks have now been made virtual. 

Josh Boggi is one of 30 veterans who are sharing their stories to school children aged between 11 and 18 years old.

At the age of 23, Mr Boggi became a triple amputee after stepping on an IED in Afghanistan in 2010.

He had to teach himself how to walk again and has since won five Invictus Games medals.

The former Royal Engineer told Forces News: "To me, in my head, you sit there with prosthetic legs on and an arm that's not real. They [the students] must think that you look like a robot or an alien.

"Once you actually start talking, you realise they are genuinely interested in every word you have to say and how you've overcome the challenges you've overcome in life.

"I find that telling my story is great, but the Q&A after you've told your story and then going on to a workshop to work with the students on going through problems is amazing.

"Some of the questions you get asked are brilliant, that you've never been asked in your life."

Veteran Josh Boggi in Afghanistan before his injury in 2010 DATE UKNOWN CREDIT HANDOUT/BFBS
Josh Boggi was a corporal in the Royal Engineers and served for 10 years until he was medically discharged in 2014 (Picture: Josh Boggi).

Natalie Hunt, a teacher in Oxfordshire, has students taking part in the project.

She said the stories from the veterans "empower" her pupils to "talk about their own emotions".

"We still have this impression that the military are tough and, you know, they don't cry and they don't go through all these difficult emotions, and they don't have all these mental health issues," Ms Hunt said.

"I think there are young people out there who feel that if they're struggling with their mental health that they're weak and that they are inadequate in some way.

"I think when they see grownups and really inspirational men and women from the military talking, it empowers them to talk about their own emotions."

Anyone interested in booking a session with Making Generation R can do so on here.

Cover image: Generation R.