YouGov poll for The Poppy Factory indicates scale of challenge for those with mental health conditions, especially at Christmas.
More than 4 in 5 (85 per cent) people in the UK think it would be difficult for someone living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to stay in paid work for 12 months or longer, new research shows.
The poll of 2,098 UK adults was carried out by The Poppy Factory, based in Richmond-upon-Thames, which helps wounded, injured and sick veterans back into work in communities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It was commissioned as part of the charity’s Working With PTSD campaign, which shows that with the right support, a veteran living with PTSD who may be struggling to fit into the civilian world can move into meaningful long-term employment.
Just five per cent of those polled by YouGov said it would not be difficult for someone with PTSD to stay in work for a year or longer, compared to 38 per cent who felt it would be very difficult and 47 per cent who said it would be fairly difficult. The other 11 per cent said they did not know.
Yet almost half of those who took part in the survey (48 per cent) said they had worked alongside someone who they knew had a mental health condition, and nearly three quarters (71 per cent) had heard of post-traumatic stress disorder and knew how it might affect someone.
Deirdre Mills, Chief Executive of The Poppy Factory, said: “We know from experience that those who struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder can find it very challenging to stay in a job. But with the right support over the long term, they often become the most dedicated, passionate and successful workers.
“Four fifths of the ex-Forces men and women who are helped by The Poppy Factory have mental health conditions and many have complex cases of PTSD. Yet we have been able to help more than 1,000 veterans back into work across the UK since 2010.
“By supporting The Poppy Factory’s Working With PTSD campaign, you can help these men and women secure the positive futures they deserve.”
Maria Theresa Miles, who broke her back while serving in the British Army and was later diagnosed with PTSD, said: “After being discharged from the Army I worked for IBM in the UK, Europe and the USA and I performed very highly, but I was distracting myself from the past. When I took redundancy, I crashed.
“I asked for help from The Poppy Factory in 2015. I’ve now achieved my ultimate goal, which is working on the water teaching young people to sail. This is the kind of thing I want to do for the rest of my working life.”
Fellow veteran Carl Craven, who developed PTSD following service in Northern Ireland and Bosnia, is now working as Head Groundsman at Thornton Manor in Cheshire after being helped by The Poppy Factory.
Carl said: “Two years ago I could hardly think for myself and I was making all the wrong decisions.
“When you’ve got PTSD, it’s like being stressed the whole time, and I’ve been like that for 20 years. But when I’m at work, I sort of forget. Now I’m actually making decisions again. I’ve got a lot of new confidence and I’ve learned so much because I’m taking everything in.
“I was in such a bad place before, and now I’m feeling so positive.”
People in the UK also feel that being able to pay rent and bills and having a good support network are much more important for people with mental health challenges at this time of year than being given presents and cards or going to social events.
Of those surveyed, 4 in 5 (83 per cent) felt that having supportive family, friends or co-workers are important for those with mental health conditions at Christmas.
Being able to pay rent and water, rent, electricity and gas bills was next on the list of priorities during the festive season, according to 3 in 5 (64 per cent) of those polled.
At least 2 in 5 (41 per cent) of those surveyed by YouGov felt that having a paid job is important for those with mental health challenges during Christmas. This is alongside the need for traditional festive activities like having social events to go to (43 per cent) or being given presents and cards (42 per cent).
Find out more at poppyfactory.org/workingwithPTSD