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PositiveMinds Veterans Wellbeing Advisor shares his experience for Armed Forces Day

Matt Boyle, Veterans Wellbeing Advisor for the PositiveMinds service in Portsmouth, has shared his lived experience of a life of service in the Army, in an attempt to highlight the very real mental health challenges faced by armed forces personnel and their families.

Talking about his 24 years’ service, Matt has described how his father, himself an army veteran, had serious mental health issues which greatly impacted on him as a child, staying with him and eventually influencing Matt’s choice to access mental health support when he knew he needed it.

“The actions and attitudes of my father and subsequent split from my mother would have been treated very differently today,” Matt said.

“In a way veterans mental health has shaped my life. I have always had an awareness that I never want to end up like my father. Accessing my own mental health support was the only way to break the cycle.”

Asked why the PositiveMinds service is helpful, Matt said: "How can you just turn off when you come home? It's not easy and many veterans need support to see their way through their experience and come out the other side, into some sense of normality.

“I can’t change the things people have seen or experienced, but I can help them make positive memories and enable them to beat negative thoughts. We have a number of veterans at PositiveMinds and we are here to support veterans and their families. I hope that this Armed Forces Day will help people who need mental health and other vital support to step forward and contact us. We can help.”

PostiveMinds is an emotional and mental health support service, based in Portsmouth and open to all residents but with a specialist team for supporting veterans and their families.

David Noyes, Chief Operating Officer for Solent NHS Trust and himself a Royal Navy veteran, said: “Matt, like many others in the veteran community, has lived with the service family, which shapes our lives. Many of us have family with ties going back generations. These are ordinary people doing extraordinary things and I see parallels between this and those serving in the NHS, as we have seen with the recent Covid crisis.

“Within Solent we have a very active and rewarding veteran’s network and we are proud to support PositiveMinds in delivering mental health services through the Recovery College, the Portsmouth Military Mental Health Reliance and with support from Walking with the Wounded and All Call Signs.”

Cllr Matthew Winnington, Portsmouth City Council's Cabinet Member for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, said: "Matt's story is an incredibly powerful and moving one - and, by all accounts, is one that is experienced by many that serve in our armed forces. It's so important that we show support to our city's armed forces and veterans’ communities. I'd encourage anyone from those communities who are struggling to reach out to the team at Positive Minds - they're there to help you access the support you need and deserve."

If you need support with your mental wellbeing, PositiveMinds can help you. Just visit www.positivemindsportsmouth.org.uk or www.solentmind.org.uk for more information. Alternatively, if you need urgent mental health support, contact NHS 111 for advice.

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