A former serviceman has said a County Durham veteran group has given him the “confidence” to ask for mental health support.
The East Durham Veterans Trust is a charity based in Seaham which supports veterans and their families from across the North East.
Eddie Warwick was suicidal when he joined the group two years ago, but since then, the group has supported his wellbeing.
He said: “It’s put me back on my feet, given me the will to live, given me confidence to get back in touch with my family.
“If it can give you the tools to recognise within yourself that you are regressing or you are falling down somewhere, it gives you that confidence to ask and say ‘can I have some help, because I think I need it.’”
The group run different activity sessions throughout the week, including craftwork.
Tony Simpson added: “It takes your mind off when you’re feeling down.
“You come and relate with other veterans that are in the same situation and because a lot of people work on welfare, you can help each other. We’re like a family.”
The trust has supported 550 veterans struggling with their mental health in last three years.
Andy Cammiss, from the trust, said: “We’ve seen people with PTSD from time in service. We’ve seen people who’ve had childhood trauma. We’ve seen people who’ve had domestic abuse, both male and female, but it’s an all round picture of mental health and it’s where do they go to get the support and the waiting lists that they go on.
“What we provide here at East Durham Veterans Trust is a counselling service with no waiting lists.”
They have access to nine counsellors, as well as one woman who lost her own soldier son to suicide.
Claire Dale’s son Ben Healy died in 2020. She said: “It’s just about putting safety netting in place so that when they’re in a moment of crisis, you know, they’re not thinking who do I need to ring – they’ve got something tangible there that they can refer to.”
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