The Soldiers’ and Aviators’ Scripture Readers Association

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The Soldiers' & Airmen's Scripture Readers Association

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental

If your brain is not doing what you need it to be doing, if it’s struggling, if it’s broken, then you’re not going to be effective in any way whatsoever, so mental fitness and mental health is so, so important.

ASR Mike Blackstock with a soldier at a recent Health Fair. © SASRA
ASR Mike Blackstock with a soldier at a recent Health Fair. © SASRA

Good mental health is vital to a soldier’s operational effectiveness. There are many ways a soldier’s mental health can be affected.

Deployment is critical to take into consideration; Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is sometimes the first thing that comes to mind, but this is just one of the many struggles that may come from deployment. Separation from family during training, exercises, and deployment all can have a negative effect. Soldiers who are parents, husbands and wives, often must miss birthdays, anniversaries and more. Although this is not always detrimental, it does put a strain on relationships and communication.  

Soldiers are also individuals and the same struggles that impact any other person’s mental health can affect theirs too: a broken home, the death of a friend, work stress, depression and more. 

Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 15 May to 21 May. Our Scripture Readers work alongside serving military personnel day-to-day and are regularly involved in providing help and guidance to soldiers struggling with mental health. Due to their own previous military experience, Scripture Readers are skilled in drawing alongside struggling soldiers; they provide counselling, a listening ear, and can give both practical and spiritual aid.

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One soldier approached me, explaining he had low mood and was depressed, to the point he was having suicidal thoughts. I suggested that he connect with the Medical Officer as soon as possible and asked if he would be happy if I connected him with his Unit Chaplain, explaining the benefit that would be to him. He agreed to both, but also asked if I would be willing to meet up. He got the practical support he needed, and we continued to connect over a coffee once a week. During our chats he showed great interest in my faith, so I invited him to a Christianity Explored course that I was running. After some sessions, he told me that he knew Christ as his Saviour. This soldier is now back in work at full capacity doing better than ever.

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