The Poppy Factory

Good support and secure finances top UK Christmas list for positive mental health

Being able to pay rent and bills and having a good support network are much more important for people with mental health challenges at Christmas than being given presents and cards, according to new research1 for employment charity The Poppy Factory.

Yet more than 4 in 5 (85 per cent) of the 2,098 UK adults surveyed by YouGov believe it would be difficult for someone living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to stay in paid work for 12 months or longer, potentially making it difficult to stay on top of their finances.

The poll was carried out for The Poppy Factory, which helps wounded, injured and sick veterans back into sustained and meaningful work in their communities. It sought to gauge public understanding of the challenges faced by those who have PTSD and who may struggle to find a new role in the civilian world.

Of those surveyed, 4 in 5 (83 per cent) felt that having supportive family, friends or co-workers are important for those with mental health conditions at Christmas.

Being able to pay rent and water, rent, electricity and gas bills was next on the list of priorities during the festive season, according to 3 in 5 (64 per cent) of those polled.

The research was commissioned as part of The Poppy Factory’s Working With PTSD campaign, which shows that with the right support, someone living with PTSD can go on to enjoy meaningful and sustainable employment.

Deirdre Mills, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said: “We know from experience that those who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder can find it very challenging to stay in a job. But with the right support over the long term, they often become the most dedicated, passionate and successful workers.

“Four fifths of the ex-Forces men and women who are helped by The Poppy Factory have mental health conditions and many have complex cases of PTSD. Yet we have been able to help more than 1,000 veterans back into work across the UK since 2010.

“By supporting The Poppy Factory’s Working With PTSD campaign, you can help these men and women secure the positive futures they deserve.”

Maria Theresa, who broke her back while serving in the British Army and was later diagnosed with PTSD, said: “After being discharged from the Army I worked for IBM in the UK, Europe and the USA and I performed very highly, but I was distracting myself from the past. When I took redundancy, I crashed.

“I asked for help from The Poppy Factory in 2015. I’ve now achieved my ultimate goal, which is working on the water teaching young people to sail. This is the kind of thing I want to do for the rest of my working life.”

At least 2 in 5 (41 per cent) of those surveyed by YouGov felt that having a paid job is important for those with mental health challenges during Christmas. This is alongside the need for traditional festive activities like having social events to go to (43 per cent) or being given presents and cards (42 per cent).

Just five per cent said it would not be difficult for someone with PTSD to stay in work for a year or longer, compared to 38 per cent who felt it would be very difficult and 47 per cent who said it would be fairly difficult. The other 11 per cent said they did not know.

Yet almost half of those who took part in the survey (48 per cent) said they had worked alongside someone who they knew had a mental health condition, and nearly three quarters (71 per cent) had heard of post-traumatic stress disorder and knew how it might affect someone.

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Notes to editors:

For media enquiries, more PTSD case studies, pictures and interview requests, please contact Dan Hodges on 07496 645 869 or email

1 The survey was carried out by YouGov on behalf of The Poppy Factory. Total sample size was 2,098 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th – 13th November 2018.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

The Poppy Factory:

The Poppy Factory is now the country’s leading employability organisation for veterans with mental and physical health conditions. From its base in Richmond-upon-Thames, the charity provides tailored support across England and Wales to help ex-Forces men and women with health challenges to return to meaningful work.

The Poppy Factory works with many businesses around the country to transform the way employers think about recruiting people with physical or mental health conditions.

The charity has helped more than 1,000 individuals into work since it started its Getting You Back to Work programme in 2010. The Poppy Factory aims to deliver the most effective support for its veterans and the service is built upon a solid evidence base. This has ensured that over 70% of veterans supported by The Poppy Factory have remained in work for 12 months or longer, which compares significantly higher than other services.

The Poppy Factory estimates there are at least 20,000 wounded, injured or sick veterans of working age in the UK who are struggling to get back into work after leaving the Armed Forces, based on the Ministry of Defence Annual Population Survey1, the Royal British Legion Household Survey (2014)2 and the Equality and research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission3.

  1. MOD Annual Population Survey: UK Armed Forces Veterans residing in Great Britain, 2016
  2. Royal British Legion Household Survey (2014)
  3. Being disabled in Britain: a journey less equal, Equality and Human Rights Commission

The Poppy Factory also employs around 30 veterans and dependants with health challenges at its factory in Richmond, producing Remembrance products for the Royal Family and for The Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

If you would like to support us or know more about our work please visit Follow The Poppy Factory on social media – Twitter: @poppyfactory / Facebook: @ThePoppyFactory / Instagram: @thepoppyfactory / LinkedIn: The Poppy Factory.

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