Once it was wrongly diagnosed as ‘shell shock’ during World War One but 100 years on, post traumatic stress continues to challenge ex-veterans of more modern conflicts.
To highlight the issue, the Mayor of Antrim and Newtownabbey, Councillor John Scott launched a ‘Recovery’ veterans photographic exhibition at Mossley Mill.
For many veterans, the transition back into civilian life can be daunting, particularly if they are suffering from physical or psychological wounds.
Admitting to a psychological wound can be difficult for some and often they are reluctant to engage in NHS treatment programmes. Those that do not seek support or treatment can often feel alone, isolated and a burden on their families, which can lead to further anxiety and depression.
In 2015 a veteran’s charity, Combat Stress, piloted a recovery programme in which the art of photography could be used to encourage veterans to learn a new skill, become more socially active and hopefully reduce anxiety and depression.
The recovery programme proved very beneficial. As the group continued to grow in experience and confidence they were set a challenge to produce a series of photographic images that summarised a key point in their recovery and would help provide an insight into mental ill health.
Most group members had little or no photographic knowledge before starting the programme.
Many struggled with learning new skills and concepts and most experienced difficulty attending meetings due to their mental ill health.
The group hopes the exhibition will raise awareness and understanding of mental ill health but more importantly, relay a message that with the right support and treatment, recovery can be achieved. The programme has since been supported by Help 4 Heroes and continues to grow in popularity.
Councillor John Scott commented: “Along with the Fellowship Photography group, the Veterans Charity, Combat Stress, who piloted the recovery programme and Help for Heroes who are currently supporting the programme, must also be commended for their work and the results are clear to see today.”
The exhibition will be displayed in Museum at The Mill, Mossley Mill until Saturday 15 April before moving to Antrim Castle Gardens were it will be on display from Tuesday 18 to Sunday 30 April.