Take the risk - ask for help, British Army chief says, as he talks of his own mental health struggles

Watch: General Sir Patrick Sanders speaks to Forces News about mental health.

The head of the British Army has urged members of the Armed Forces to "take the risk, put your hand up, ask someone for help" if they are struggling with their mental health as he shared his own experiences.

General Sir Patrick Sanders told Forces News that he would reach his "lowest points" when faced with some dark memories from being on operations where "we had lost a lot of friends", and dealing with the grief, combined with feelings that work was not going so well, on top of "ups and downs in personal relationships with family or friends".

The Chief of the General Staff said: "Those things come together. It is never the one thing.

"It is recognising when things are beginning to come together in a compound way.

"That's the point where sticking your hand up is important because if you tip over the edge, you go into a dark pit where you are then unable to ask for help."

Two years ago, Gen Sir Patrick laid bare how leading soldiers in combat operations had caused him to feel suicidal and drink alone in the middle of the night.

"I was depressed, I was low, there were periods of time where I had suicidal thoughts and it took me a good chunk of time to begin to come back from that on the back of a very violent tour," Gen Sir Patrick said in an interview published on the British Army's Twitter page.

General Sir Patrick Sanders
General Sir Patrick Sanders talking with Ukrainian personnel (Credit: MOD)

Gen Sir Patrick, the professional head of the British Army who is set to leave the role the next year, said: "I recognise that people feel scared about it. It's okay to feel scared about it.

"There's no shame in not talking about it, but there's no shame in sharing either.

"Take the risk, put your hand up, ask someone for help."

General Sir Patrick has had a celebrated career, commanding at company, battalion, brigade and divisional level worldwide on operations in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In his exclusive interview series with Forces News, he previously spoke about leaving his position since his "watch is ended", quoting a line from the TV series Game of Thrones, and disclosed that he felt an "emotional tug" when he saw footage of a destroyed UK-supplied Challenger 2 burning in Ukraine – the first lost to enemy action.

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