On Mental Health Awareness Week this is not your typical post…but perhaps it should be?
Most British people today regard WWII as too far back to be important to our mental health; after all we’ve had Korea, Suez, Aden, Ireland, the Falklands, Gulf’s I and II, Afghanistan, even Vietnam for the odd Brit.
There have been plenty of wars since 1945, and yes there are countless servicemen and women who have been unable to re-join civilian life as a result of their experiences - to our shame they live on the streets, or quietly end their overwhelming depression by whatever means comes to hand.
But this is not new. Growing up in the 1960’s everyone I knew between the ages of 35 and 60 had served in WWII, with most of the men seeing action whether it was France, North Africa, Norway, Italy or Germany. The men never talked about what they did or saw, they couldn’t. Some found religion, some drank themselves to oblivion, some went mad – some did all three. We grew up in an environment where our fathers could be incoherent and illogical, and our mothers were prescribed Valium.
The lessons have to be learned. We need infinitely more care given to those moving back from military to civilian life. This may sound expensive, but right now the cost of not acting is immeasurable, and the lack of action shocking.