Prince Charles marks 100 years of military mental health charity

The Prince of Wales paid tribute to his sons’ mental health charity work and acknowledged the “challenges of the future”, as he marked the centenary of a veterans’ charity.

Speaking at a reception for mental health organisation Combat Stress, Charles praised “the awful stigma of our society” giving way to a “more positive and caring attitude”.

He added: “The armed forces have made a concerted effort in this regard and so, I am proud to say, have my sons.”

The Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex are both patrons and founders of the Heads Together initiative, which raises funds for mental health services.

The St James’s Palace event was in aid of Combat Stress’ At Ease appeal, launched in the charity’s 100th year as it attempts to raise £10 million.

Then known as the Ex-Servicemen’s Welfare Society, the charity launched in 1919 to help men returning from the front line of the First World War.

More than 2,000 veterans turn to Combat Stress for assistance each year, and 17% of servicemen and women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan are predicted to develop post-traumatic stress disorder.

Dean Porter received assistance from Combat Stress when he reached “rock bottom” after serving with the Royal Anglian regiment in the 2000s.

He credits the charity with helping him recover after “everything came crashing down”. Now a personal trainer, Mr Porter had found himself with gambling problems and was “bitter towards the Army for a while,” before the therapies helped in his recovery.

Veterans’ Minister Tobias Elwood also paid tribute to the charity’s work.

Commenting on how military attitudes towards mental health have changed since he served in the Army, Mr Elwood said personnel have shifted away from being “stubborn, to think there’s a stigma about saying that there’s something wrong with them”.

He praised the modern aim for an “advanced society that is very proud of the professionalism of its armed forces but also one that should look after them, and acknowledges they may need support”.

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Tristan Fewings / PA Wire.