June update: FORCES for CHANGE survey launched, and author Matt Johnson talks to us about writing and mental illness

In June the FORCES for CHANGE campaign trail across Wales continued with events in Ceredigion, Blaenau Gwent, Gwynedd and Caerphilly.

Find out when there’s a campaign event near you

We also caught up with bestselling author and veteran Matt Johnson who told us how writing had helped his mental health.

“I found that writing had a profound effect on me. In a most unexpected way it helped my recovery,” Matt said. “At times, the first attempts to commit thoughts and experience to paper were emotional and challenging but, as I persisted, I found that my thought processes became clearer and more organised and many unpleasant memories became just that, memories. I stopped reliving them.”

Watch our interview with Matt here…

 

  • Take part in our survey

Earlier this month we launched our FORCES for CHANGE survey. The aim of our survey is to get feedback from as many veterans and their families as possible so that we can report to policy makers, health professionals and other decision makers on the key issues facing us – and how they can be overcome.

The survey only takes around ten minutes to complete. Take part at: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PRSMRMM

 

  • Priority treatment for veterans

One of our Facebook followers pointed out that veterans and healthcare professionals may be unaware that veterans have a right to priority healthcare treatment if their mental illness is service-related.

We spoke to a Welsh Government spokesperson who emphasised the importance of veterans registering with a GP practice and telling the doctor they have served in the armed forces.

“If the doctor considers the veteran’s condition to be a result of their service, they should, with the veteran’s agreement, make this clear in their referral to a secondary care clinician,” they said.

“If the clinician agrees with the doctor’s opinion then the veteran will be entitled to priority treatment. This does not mean they will jump to the front of the queue, but they will have priority over others with the same level of clinical need.”

Health professionals can find further guidance in the Welsh Health Circular WHC (2008) 051 Priority Treatment and Healthcare for Veterans.

 

For the latest updates on the campaign, and to get involved, please visit forcesforchange.wales

Matt Pearce