Many people claim they want to help support their colleagues, friends, employees or family members accessing the mental health support they need but don’t know how. One of the most effective ways is early signposting and offering support. Signposting is simply pointing someone in the right direction for help and not necessarily being able to state the specific help they need; leave that to the doctors. It does not require someone to be a psychotherapist to signpost; they simply need to be aware of where help and support can be found. This doesn’t always have to be clinical intervention either, it can be support via chat rooms, peer support groups or charities etc. We spend a lot of time at work so the workplace can be a good place to signpost people. The development of a mentally healthy workplace with a positive culture can also aid recovery of those with a mental health condition.

The main issue surrounding people accessing the appropriate mental health support appears to not be that help isn’t there, but more that people are reluctant to access it. Over 1/3 of people with a mental health condition say they do not seek help.

For many taking that first step to accessing help may feel like being at the bottom of a tall wall; there’s no way over the barrier it presents. But with support anything is possible. Stigma and negative perceptions surrounding mental health and accessing help may explain why many people are reluctant to approach others for help. Improving public awareness of the services and resources that are available is only part of the solution. Barriers to accessing help can include practical difficulties in accessing the support, concerns about confidentiality and trust, a preference for informal sources of help, and stigma.

With regards to stigma, 81% of people claim that ‘feeling embarrassed or ashamed’ prevented them from seeking help. A similar number stated a ‘dislike of talking about my feelings, emotions, or thoughts’ was the reason. Over 60% claimed ‘not being able to afford the financial costs involved in seeking professional help’ was the main barrier to doing so. Others expressed concerns about what family, friends, or professionals would think if they were to seek help or receive a mental health diagnosis. This fear of perception is particularly prevalent amongst veterans.

Veterans’ mental health issues may be made worse or caused by post-service factors, such as the difficulty in making the transition to civilian life, marital problems or loss of family and social support networks. Younger veterans are at higher risk of suicide in the first two years after leaving service. Ex-service personnel are also vulnerable to social exclusion and homelessness, both of which are risk factors for mental ill health. Alcohol misuse is also high among the veteran community.

A great starting point for accessing help is the Veterans Gateway. Accessible 24/7 by chat, text, voice call, email or app it’s a first point of contact for all veteran welfare needs. From healthcare and housing to employability, finances, and more. They can refer you directly to trusted partners to get the help and support you need.

If you or your organisation are interested in developing a mentally healthy workplace or receiving training to better understand the impact of stigma, gain more confidence to signpost and know more about mental health contact