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World Suicide Prevention Day: Working together to support veterans

A blog has been shared by Abigail Boyle, Director of Operations, The Poppy Factory

As people around the world come together today for World Suicide Prevention Day, our focus is on supporting UK veterans with health conditions back into employment.

Four out of five of the men and women we work with report a mental health condition and most have faced a significant period of unemployment. By the time they reach out to The Poppy Factory for employability support, many veterans describe feelings of worthlessness and being at rock bottom.

For many, the Covid-19 crisis may have magnified their feelings of social isolation, financial instability, anxiety, stress and uncertainty.

We know that being in work is good for wellbeing. A review of scientific evidence for the Department for Work and Pensions found that re-employment leads to improved self-esteem, improved general and mental health, and reduced psychological distress. At the same time, being out of work is associated with poorer physical and mental health and well-being.

The value of work

The Poppy Factory’s own recent report into the value of work found that our employability support has a positive impact for veterans and wider society, with improved job prospects and increased earnings potential for veterans with mental or physical health conditions. And employability support generates further social value through improved confidence and financial comfort, and relief from depression and anxiety.

Whenever a suicide is prevented, of course, the value is incalculable. This year’s theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is ‘working together to prevent suicide’ and in our field, working together is critical for every veteran that we support on their journey into employment.

We work closely with the veteran to understand their often complex health and personal challenges, build their confidence and find a way towards sustainable employment. Through close one-to-one support over a prolonged period of time, we are able to build a detailed understanding of each individual and the particular set of challenges that they face.

Joint working

We must work together with military charities, health agencies, training providers and partner organisations to ensure that the men and women we encounter have access to the support they need, and that each of their needs is addressed. And we must work closely with employers across the UK to find opportunities for veterans with health challenges to fulfil their ambitions.

Our employability service doesn’t end when a veteran secures a job. We continue to offer in-work support and work with veterans and their employers to find solutions, with a focus on coaching, mentoring and guidance. We maintain contact with health professionals and partner organisations to ensure veterans have consistent support.

It is only through this careful joint working and combined effort that we can help veterans with health conditions overcome their challenges and fulfil their potential in the civilian world through employment. Suicide might feel like the only way out, but experience shows that with the right support in place, it does not have to be.

  • To register for The Poppy Factory’s employability support or for more information, click here.
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