Armed forces veterans who set up a support network for distressed service personnel say our members are playing an important role in helping to prevent military suicides.
Stephen James and Dan Arnold created All Call Signs after their comrade Danny Johnston took his own life.
Former members of The Second Battalion, the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment, Stephen and Dan felt there were gaps in provision after they too experienced post-traumatic stress disorder and other service-related mental health issues following service with the army.
All Call Signs is a peer-to-peer support network. If service personnel need to talk, they can connect with one of over 500 national operators who are familiar with military life.
All Call Signs also has a rapid response Beacon Alerts system which sends out a call to action to All Call Signs members and relevant agencies when a vulnerable member of the military community goes missing. The alert is shared socially with the aim of assisting traditional search and rescue units in locating the missing person and bringing them home safely.
And where people require professional support, All Call Signs will help them access appropriate services including a BACP-registered therapist in their area.
Stephen said: “We recognise that we are meeting people who need more help and we are passing them to other services to provide that help. However, the waiting lists are so long that people become disenfranchised in waiting to get that help.
“We have started providing private mental health care through BACP-registered therapists. It’s important to us that the level of professionalism and care that the person is receiving is the highest it can possibly be.
“It’s important to us as an organisation that the people we are supporting are the best in their field, and the BACP register is an excellent way of ensuring that is the case.”
All Call Signs was set up a year ago and has had some stunning success stories. So far, their beacon alert has seen 55 missing people being found safe and well.
“We know that that are who people wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for that intervention,” said Stephen, who was speaking to us for World Mental Health Day, which this year has a suicide prevention theme.
One such intervention happened when a veteran went missing from Scotland. The beacon was activated, and the missing serviceman was found by a waitress who had served him breakfast in a hotel in Cornwall.
Stephen said: “By the time the police made it to his hotel door he had everything in the room that he needed to take his life. I don’t think there would’ve been another way to reach that person.
“We’re quite sure that our service is preventing the loss of life,” he added.
Another aim of All Call Signs is to raise awareness of the health needs of people in and around the forces. The organisation has been featured on ITV and the BBC, and even came to the attention of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who wore All Call Signs bracelets at the Endeavour Awards to honour the military.
Jinny Hughes, our Public Engagement Liaison, joined Stephen, Dan and friends of All Call Signs in Portsmouth to help mark their one-year anniversary.
“The work they are doing is incredible,” Jinny said. “It’s making a real difference to the lives of our service personnel and veterans.
“You cannot help but be moved by the stories of people involved in All Call Signs, and we hope that BACP and our members can continue to support their work.”
If you want to speak to a BACP therapist in your area, visit our Find a Therapist register.
Find out more about All Call Signs.