Making a positive difference to Veterans’ mental health and wellbeing

October 11, 2023

Following the successful administration of the One Is Too Many programme, the Trust has commissioned the University of Chester to evaluate the findings from this innovative programme which focuses on veteran suicide prevention. 

With funding from HM Treasury through the Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, the One is Too Many programme awarded £2.1M to nine projects across the UK, to organisations with experience in working with individuals who are at increased risk of suicide.  

The Trust commissioned the University of Chester to undertake a comprehensive, external evaluation of the programme, which has found that the programme has made a positive difference through the treatments and interventions that have improved mental health and wellbeing, with life-saving implications.  

The One Is Too Many programme 

The programme awarded two-year projects, designed to significantly reduce veteran suicide by gaining a better understanding of the issues, providing timely intervention including education and peer support to improve the wellbeing of veterans and engage where appropriate with their families and friends.  

An important focus of the programme was to address the possible barriers to accessing healthcare.  

We wanted to further explore specific approaches that could help reduce suicide and suicide risk in veterans. At the heart of the programme we wanted to better understand the difficulties experienced by vulnerable veterans in dealing with suicidal thoughts and feelings, but who were not successfully accessing the support they need. 

The funded organisations delivered their projects in a co-ordinated and targeted way, concentrating on the quality of the interventions in reducing suicide, rather than the number of participants. 

Who did the programme support? 

Nearly 600 Veterans took part in the projects examined in depth by the evaluators. The Veterans had multiple aspects within their lives that were sources of stress to them. 

The majority of service users had an average service of 12 years. Most were male with an average age of 45.  

Some key findings from the evaluation include: 

  • 77% reported being exposed to a traumatic event during Service with an average of two each.  
  • 83% of Veterans taking part in projects reported long-standing physical or mental health illness. 
  • 3% of project participants were homeless on entering the programme. 

The evaluation notes that the programme has illustrated suicide risk factors leading to Veterans’ self-harm, suicide risk and protective factors.  

These can now inform policymakers, healthcare professionals, and third-sector organisations of a direction of travel that has palpable benefits. 

Impact of the programme 

The evaluation report has shown that projects were successful in improving the health and wellbeing of Veterans.  

However, there is a need to further explore initiatives to engage with female Veterans. Research is also needed to examine the impact of gender-related experiences during military Service on female Veterans’ help-seeking behaviour. 

Recommendations from the evaluation 

The evaluation report notes several recommendations. These include: 

  • additional resources and research 
  • developing strategies to reach under-represented and minority groups 
  • ways to encourage help-seeking behaviour. 
Read the report 

The evaluation report is available to read on our website. It includes a full list of recommendations and lots of insight from those who took part in the programme. 

One Is Too Many: Suicide Prevention Conference 

The evaluation report is being launched at the Trust’s One Is Too Many: Suicide Prevention Conference, today (11 October 2023). 

We are delighted to be able to launch such an important impact document at our flagship event for 2023. Further updates from the conference will follow. 

In the meantime, you can learn more about the One Is Too Many programme on our website.