Scheme Launched To Support Mental Wellbeing Of RAF Personnel

Research found that over half of respondents had experienced social isolation.

A study says moving stations, distance from close relatives and deployments can all contribute to feeling isolated (Picture: MOD).

An RAF charity has launched a scheme to support RAF personnel who are struggling with their mental wellbeing.

Research conducted by the RAF Benevolent Fund found that more than half of respondents had experienced social isolation and 42% of their partners said loneliness has been a problem for them.

As part of their initiative, the RAF will fund access to a mindfulness app and pilot workshops and seminars.

The 'Meeting The Needs of The Serving RAF Community' report reached almost 10% of serving personnel and is being launched in the House of Commons on Thursday.

The research highlighted that moving stations, distance from close relatives and deployments can all contribute to feelings of isolation.

Seventy-three per cent of the 3,057 respondents said they would rather deal with their problems alone than seek help, and 39% said they had been too embarrassed to ask for help in the past.

Another area that was highlighted for concern was relationship difficulties.

The report reached around one in ten serving personnel (Picture: MOD).

Twenty-seven per cent said they had experienced marriage or relationship issues.

To help tackle this, wellbeing breaks for RAF families with be piloted across the UK.

Most of the programmes will be tested to ensure they work before rolling them out, the others will be delivered through grant funding.

Warrant Officer Jon Sykes has used the mindfulness app during the pilot scheme, since then he has completed 6000 hours of the app called Headspace. He says it has now become part of his daily routine:

"There are lots of thought people have and lots of external influence, this app puts them in a language you can understand, using graphics and animations.

"It helps to put those thoughts into context and understand why you react to those thoughts."

In the opening of the report the Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said progress made "will make a substantive difference to RAF personnel and their families in need and distress".