Many Veterans of UK military services live with PTSD. While some level of support and therapy can be found for Veterans who have left services, there is little help for the families who live with the Veteran and the difficult emotional and behaviourial outcomes of severe mental health problems. The research team are working with a Welsh Charity who are developing a family support service for veteran families. At the core of the service is use of a restorative approach which has long been linked to building relationships and reducing conflict
The negative impact of mental health illness on families is well known. Although the high incidence of mental health problems, especially PTSD, amongst military Veterans is recognised there is little systematic support for their families. TGP are a Welsh Charity which supports vulnerable and marginalised children, young people and families in Wales. TGP are closely associated with use of a Restorative Approach: a philosophy and practice drawn from Restorative Justice that is based on the shared set of democratic values such as honesty, trust, fairness, inclusion and collaboration. A Restorative Approach has been adopted in varied service settings including education and welfare, with encouraging signs of improved relationships and reduction in problems such as aggression and bullying. Recent research exploring use of a Restorative Approach in family support systems has found signs of better, more effective service provision and higher levels of family communication and reduced family conflict.
TGP are seeking to provide a family support service for the families of Veterans with PTSD. To do so they are working with Veterans NHS Wales, a NHS service providing support for Welsh veterans with PTSD. The ‘Restorative Approach for Veteran Families Service’ seeks to work with families and Veterans alongside the VNHSW service with the intent of improving family relationships and dynamics and so benefitting the mental health of all family members including the Veteran. This research is evaluating the project over the first three years of development and implementation with the aim of identifying and addressing project facilitators and barriers and thereby producing the best model of service implementation.
Activities and Methods
The research is a mixed study largely informed by qualitative data. Over the time of the study researchers have been talking to key service stakeholders in RAFVS and VNHSW before the service began and at regular intervals since. They have also been talking to range of Veterans and Veteran families: Veterans who refused the service, Veterans and families who have used the services and Veterans and families who have experienced mental health problems but were not aware of RAFVS. The study also collected measures of family relationships and dynamics for families, before and after use of RAVFS.
The study has been well accepted. Some barriers to implementation have been identified and possible solutions integrated into the service model . A full report will be produced by December 2020.
|Dr. Annie Williams