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Cathedral is lit up to shine a light on mental health stigma in armed forces

PUBLISHED: 15:37 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:54 15 February 2019

St Edmundsbury Cathedral was illuminated on Wednesday Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

St Edmundsbury Cathedral was illuminated on Wednesday Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

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Military charity Help for Heroes lit up St Edmundsbury Cathedral this week to shine a light on mental health stigma in the armed forces.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral was illuminated on Wednesday Picture: HELP FOR HEROESSt Edmundsbury Cathedral was illuminated on Wednesday Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

Illuminating the Bury St Edmunds cathedral on Wednesday night was part of the charity’s campaign to “cut the clock” after it was revealed military veterans were delaying seeking support for their mental health for nearly four years.

A survey, commissioned by Help for Heroes, showed the delay was partly due to veterans believing civilian services will not understand or support them along with a fear of being treated differently by friends and family.

Veteran Mark Beckham, from Bury, battled to keep his mental health issues under wraps for two decades.

“I still have bad days but when they come I can deal with them, because I know there’s hope out there,” he said.

Military veteran Mark Beckham took nearly two decades to seek help for his mental health issues Picture: HELP FOR HEROESMilitary veteran Mark Beckham took nearly two decades to seek help for his mental health issues Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

“I accept I’m having a bad day and I let nature take its course. I don’t try and fight it because I can’t. I just keep it in the back of my mind that as soon as this little cloud has passed that I’ll be back and cracking on, because I’ve got things to work towards now.

“I don’t know where I would be now without the help I’ve received – probably six feet under.”

MORE: Mental health campaign launched for military veterans

The Very Rev Joe Hawes, Dean of St Edmundsbury Cathedral, said: “Our tower is a beacon across Bury St Edmunds and Suffolk.

“By being involved in this ‘Cut the Clock’ campaign we hope that we can support Help For Heroes in their aim to increase awareness around mental health support for veterans and encourage more to come forward and seek help.”

The illumination was part of the charity's 'Cut the Clock' campaign Picture: HELP FOR HEROESThe illumination was part of the charity's 'Cut the Clock' campaign Picture: HELP FOR HEROES

A drop-in session was held at Bury St Edmunds Leisure Centre on Beetons Way on Wednesday, February 13, where Help for Heroes staff from Colchester Recovery Centre were on hand to answer questions and explain how former members of the military in Suffolk can access support.

Specialists from the Fellowship, Psychological Wellbeing Support, Sports Recovery, Careers Advice and Welfare Support were also available.

The drop-in session will take place every other Wednesday going forward and veterans who already receive support from the charity will share personal stories about how their quality of life has improved since becoming involved with Help for Heroes.

Anyone who is wounded, injured or sick during or as a result of service is eligible to apply for help and can self-refer at www.helpforheroes.org.uk/get-support/

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