RAF News

Looking after your Mental Health

Aviator wears specialist head gear with radio.

Trigger Warning: The following video discusses suicide.

For many, this is a time of year for reflection and celebration.  But for some, it can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Taking care of ourselves and understanding how to look out for others is as important now as it has ever been.  With COVID-19 still impacting all of us and many personnel deployed over the holidays, checking in on friends, family and neighbours is as important as ever. 

The RAF are introducing a new series of short films, created by Personnel and the RAF Mental Health Network.  They will discuss real life stories of mental health and allow open and honest discussions, with the hope to help reduce the stigma around such topics. 

Tim smiling.
Wing Commander Tim Owen.

Tim has been in the RAF for 31 years, during that time he has lost friends and colleagues and survived a mid-air collision.  In 2020, Tim went through the the biggest challenge of his life, after his 19-year-old daughter took her own life.  More about the challenge is here.

in the first video, Wing Commander Tim Owen speaks openly about his struggles with mental health, how support for Service Personnel has changed, and gives advice to those who might be struggling.  Tim faced a 300 miles charity walk, with fellow grievers Mike and Andy, in memory of their daughters lost to suicide.  The challenge received a lot of media attention, with donations from James Bond actor, Daniel Craig, and BBC coverage - some of which is included in the video.   

Emily taking a selfie.
Emily, Tim's daughter.

Support and Resources

There are several support resources available to Service Personnel, who can speak to their Unit Welfare staffs, a padre, their doctor or SSAFA.  Civil Service colleagues can also access their Employee Assistance Programme for help.

Despite much of Air closing down for a three-week stand-down over the festive period, most DPHC medical centres on units will be staffed by Duty staff every day (usually 0800-1830) apart from the Public Holidays and weekends, so there will be someone clinical to talk to there if you need to. Some smaller unit DPHC medical centres might close but arrangements are usually made such that a larger local DPHC facility provides cover.

  • The SSAFA Forces line: 0800 260 6767
  • The Families Federation
  • Employee Assistance Programme (civil service) - 0800 345 7047 free and confidential Helpline
  • RAF Benevolent Fund - Emotional support helpline: [email protected] or 0300 222 5703
  • Mind
  • Togetherall - active forum and support from trained professionals.  You can talk anonymously to other members and take part in group or 1-to-1 therapy with therapists
  • RAF Association - welfare support to all serving and former members of the RAF, their spouses and dependants
  • RAF Central Fund - A charity that works to safeguard the health and wellbeing of serving RAF personnel through grant funding for sport and physical activities
  • The Charity for Civil Servants – Support for civil servants, past and present 
  • The Samaritans, telephone Helpline: 116 123
  • If you or someone else is in immediate danger or harm, call 999, or if you urgently need medical help and advice but it’s not life threatening, call 111.

Health & Wellbeing