NHS Armed Forces Network (Sussex and Kent and Medway)

The Sussex, Kent and Medway Armed Forces Network (AFN) is NHS led, but works with over 450 organisations including the MoD, military and non military charities, local authorities and the police and fire and rescue service. Members work together to improve the lives of the armed forces community. The AFN also work directly with veterans and their families and carers to improve their health and wellbeing. The AFN ensure they have timely and appropriate access to services and can get support and help on issues including physical and mental health, housing, employment, welfare, and social needs.

AFN offer training to anyone working with the Armed Forces Community, as well as the community themselves. They have a dedicated Armed Forces specific mental health and suicide prevention training programme that has recently been rolled out nationally as well as locally.

How does your organisation contribute to preventing suicide and supporting those affected by it?

The Armed Forces Network have developed a suite of Armed Forces specific suicide prevention resources that are available free of charge for both professionals working with the AFC but also for the AFC themselves. Along with these resources we offer a 4 hour training course (currently delivered online but also face to face) that aims to raise awareness of mental health and suicide prevention, teaching people the skills and abilities needed to help people in crisis and guide them to appropriate support and services.

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What are your current priorities?

Current priorities are training of professionals working with the Armed Forces Community and training for the Armed Forces Community themselves, so that they can gain confidence in supporting their peers and family members who may be experiencing mental ill health and suicidal distress.

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What challenges are you currently facing?

Due to Covid-19 we have had to suspend all  of our face to face training courses. However, we have developed most of our courses as online training so that we can continue to raise awareness of the issues affecting our Armed Forces Community and link people in with appropriate support.

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