The Trust has been involved in a pioneering study to help the families of veterans who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Veterans suffering from PTSD, a debilitating condition that members of the forces can experience, particularly when they have served in areas of armed conflict, often display symptoms such as dissociation, increased levels of aggression and impulsivity.
This often leads to problems within their families but research has shown that early intervention can have a dramatically beneficial impact on family functioning, leading to much better outcomes for children: as well as having better relationships with their parents, they can enjoy better peer relationships, achieve more at school and have better mental health in teenage and adult years.
In February 2011, the Trust’s Infant-Parent Perinatal Service (IPPS) secured funding to pilot a 12-month project for veterans and their families. The service (which works to improve parental bonding, often for instance when parents suffer post-natal depression) offered parent-child, family, individual and group-based interventions. Drawing on the model that the service already uses, it amended it to include issues pertinent to veteran families, such as leaving and returning to a young family, missing out on important developmental milestones, loss of identity, masculinity, community ‘shame’ regarding personal problems and mental health awareness.
The service worked with a number of families who demonstrated an improvement in their mood levels and described more positive relationships with their infants following treatment. Some of the comments the service received from parents at the end of the treatment programme were:
“Thank you for having me on the course. I have taken away some invaluable information and I know it will contribute massively to my parenting skills and confidence.”
“‘….Improved aspects of my relationship with daughter … which was why I attended.”
“A really useful course, well structured and well presented.”
“Brilliant staff and group.”
“I’m more optimistic about spending time with my baby and confident I’m doing the right thing.”
Building on the success of the pilot, the IPPS service now plans to liaise with Military primary health care to share their findings from this pilot. One aspiration is to offer a group programme in collaboration with the SSAFA services, on a rolling basis, to serving personnel in Oxfordshire.
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Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust provides a range of specialist mental health services in five different localities as well as physical healthcare to patients in Oxfordshire.
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