Samaritans new veterans app aims to help manage the emotional challenges of leaving the military
Military veterans are set to benefit from a dedicated new mental health app, launched today by Samaritans, to help them deal with the long-term emotional challenges of adjusting to life after the Forces.
The free Samaritans Veterans app comes on the back of joint research the leading suicide prevention charity carried out with the Royal British Legion, which found that veterans wanted to understand more about their emotional wellbeing and to hear from people with similar experiences. Those leaving the military and former Armed Forces personnel can access emotional health and wellbeing information, videos, exercises, podcasts, and create wellbeing to-do-lists in the app to help look after themselves and connect with the veteran community.
The new app is part of a programme at the charity that works with the Ministry of Defence and military charities to support serving personnel in the Armed Forces, veterans and their families, and is funded by a £3.5m LIBOR grant.
Navy veteran Liam (27), who used Samaritans for support when he was struggling with suicidal thoughts, believes the support could help veterans leaving the Armed Forces in the same way he is now. “I left the navy in June, so I'm just getting to grips with the adjustment of a different pace of life.
“The support resources in the app are great and I like that you can do daily check ins to help manage your moods. Anything that can help you to get on with the everyday things is so useful when you have just left a familiar routine. I have used Samaritans service in the past and the volunteer I spoke to helped me out of a huge hole. To anyone feeling low, don’t be afraid to ask for help and confide. You don’t need to carry the weight of stress on your own, and your world will feel more manageable if you can take steps to look after your wellbeing and talk to others.”
Samaritans volunteers provide emotional support to the military community with concerns including mental health, isolation and loneliness, family and relationship problems, and most contacts are from veterans. In April 2020, the first full month of the pandemic lockdown, the charity saw the largest volume of military contacts since Samaritans began to record contacts from the military community in 2018 and 79% were veterans.
Samaritans Veterans App will support veterans to learn ways to manage their emotional responses to situations, deal with the new day-to-day reality and help to identify challenges and develop ways to overcome them. The app also has access to volunteering and peer support by connecting people to the wider veteran community.
JJ Chalmers, a veteran Lance Corporal in the Royal Marines and TV presenter, said: “Life in the Armed Forces can be very challenging, and people who have recently left active service are particularly likely to struggle after losing that structure, camaraderie and sense of purpose.
“We all have mental health, and we should actively choose to maintain it, rather than dealing with it as a last resort. Anything that helps provide support is invaluable. The Samaritans Veterans App is a great tool to help keep track of your wellbeing and includes useful resources if you are having a difficult time.”
Samaritans Military Programme Manager and former Army Officer Joseph Walcott said: “Military veterans have proudly served their country but may find themselves in need of a helping hand once they have to readjust to civilian life.
“Leaving the military is a really big deal and veterans we have spoken to have told us that they would have benefited from additional support and guidance for their mental wellbeing during this period in their lives.
“With our data showing that veteran callers are almost twice as likely to report suicidal ideation compared to callers from the general population, we wanted to help. The new Samaritans Veterans app provides a practical way for those leaving the military and veterans to look after their own emotional health and that of their families, as well as support each other through a period of real upheaval in their lives.”
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty said: “The Samaritan's Veteran App will help ensure that all those who have served can access mental health and wellbeing support if they need it.
"The app will allow veterans to manage everyday tasks through a range of tools. Regardless of when you served, I urge all veterans to download the app to support their day-to-day wellbeing."
The Samaritans Veterans App is available to download (Samaritans Veterans) on your phone from the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android) or use the desktop version here.
For more information, please contact Samaritans press team at [email protected] or 020 8394 8300.
Notes to editor
- Joint research with the Royal British Legion was carried out between January and April 2019.
- Samaritans received a £3.5m LIBOR grant from the Ministry of Defence in 2016 to develop a programme that helps military personnel, veterans and their families.
- The LIBOR fund is money collected from banks fined for manipulating the Libor rate, and has been given to charities since 2012.
- Samaritans military programme works with the MOD and military charities to support serving personnel in the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.
- Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you can email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.org for more information.
- Every day, Samaritans volunteers respond to around 10,000 calls for help.
- Samaritans has received over 30,000 contacts from the military community since July 2018 and over 70% have been veterans.
- Samaritans data shows that veteran callers are almost twice as likely to report suicidal ideation compared to callers from the general population (Samaritans e-Log July 2018-June 2021).
- Samaritans is a charity and it’s the public’s kind donations and more than 20,000 volunteers that mean that we are always there for anyone struggling to cope. Find out how you can support us or volunteer with us.