The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), established to help ex-Service men and women make a successful transition back to civilian life, has awarded a grant of £97,539 to Wiltshire Mind to deliver and evaluate a pilot online support service to carers of people suffering from severe mental illness (SMI) in the Armed Forces Community over a one-year period.

Caring for loved ones who have SMI can be incredibly difficult, leaving many carers feeling lost and helpless as to how best to provide support.  Many are unable to access appropriate services which can assist with their particular circumstances.  The online service, which will be facilitated by Wiltshire Mind and run by Healios in collaboration with the Army Families Federation, will enable carers to easily access resources to help build their understanding of mental health difficulties and acquire some of the skills necessary to care for their loved ones.  This service will be particularly important for those making the transition from military to civilian life.

The pilot project intends to recruit 50 carers from the Armed Forces Community based in the Wiltshire Area who are currently looking after a family member with SMI.   Wiltshire Mind expects that the evidence generated from the independent evaluation of this innovative model of support will be used to refine and to develop [the approach more widely.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust said: “Giving carers access to vital support and resources will help them in turn provide the type of support their loved ones need.  The evaluation of this pilot programme will provide the evidence-base we need to improve support to carers across the Armed Forces Community and indeed across the general population too, and we are extremely proud to partner with Wiltshire Mind in this innovative project.”

David Mckeigue, Chief Executive of Wiltshire Mind said “This is a unique online service which  focuses on helping the carer deliver significantly better outcomes for themselves and indeed their loved one, and, because of the way the service is delivered, the number of carers that can access the service is significantly higher than conventional face to face methods. Wiltshire Mind is delighted to be partnering with both the AFF and Healios on this exciting pilot. The innovative approach and unique service delivery of Healios is of huge value and benefit to all carers wherever they may be located.”

For more information, please contact Alice Farrow at The PR Office on  / mobile:  07788 540 924 / direct dial: 020 7284 6955

About Wiltshire Mind

Wiltshire Mind, established in 1993, is a voluntary independent Mental Health Charity, which provides county-wide services. It is affiliated with Mind and works to improve the quality of life for vulnerable people with mental health issues by providing services such as peer support groups and professional counselling services. The charity last year supported over 3000 service user visits to their peer support groups and delivered some 500 counselling sessions.

About Healios

Healios is an international organisation, which exists to support carers of people with mental illness, and in turn make a positive impact on the future recovery of the person with the illness.

Healios offers carers clinically effective techniques to use as they care for their loved one, combined with tailored education and support. Carers are able to schedule sessions to fit in with their daily routine – via phone or video call – with Healios’ team of clinicians, making it possible for carers across the UK to have access to a highly professional service.  Since launching in June 2013, Healios has provided over 2,000 sessions to carers across the UK. Both qualitative and quantitative feedback has demonstrated the value and effectiveness of the service.

About the AFF

The Army Families Federation (AFF) is the independent voice of Army families and works hard to improve the quality of life for Army families around the world – on any aspect that is affected by the Army lifestyle.