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Veterans’ support team

bears weight of medicine ball to raise awareness of mental health problems

Medicine-Ball-reduced
A team of NHS professionals are spending a week chained to a medicine ball to highlight the weight and burden of mental health problems that some people carry with them daily.

Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust's (LPFT) Veterans' Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison service (TILs) are the first NHS veterans' service to take on the quirky Medicine Ball Challenge.

The challenge aims to raise awareness of mental health, with each participant carrying the ball for a week at a time before passing it on. The ball represents the hidden illnesses that people can be carrying with them, such as anxiety, depression and stress.

Afghanistan veteran, Sergeant Andrew Unwin initiated the challenge after witnessing his comrades suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), spending two weeks with the ball chained to his wrist.

Paula Jelly Regional Lead for the TILs service said "This is an excellent opportunity for the team to raise awareness around mental illness and the 'weight' of carrying around the challenge and stigma often related to experiencing mental ill health. The idea to participate came from Karen Salter, our veteran liaison nurse. Each team member will carry the ball for 24 hours before handing it over to their colleague. We are hoping to raise awareness amongst peers, the public and the Armed Forces communities across Lincolnshire."

Captain Andrew Perkins from the British Army, who is leading the Medicine Ball Challenge alongside founder Sgt Unwin, said "The Medicine Ball Challenge was first created to help eliminate the stigma which still exists around mental health – especially in the military. One can only wonder how many deaths could be prevented if people felt confident enough to talk about the problems and issues they are struggling with. We want to continue to raise awareness about an issue which affects all corners of society. We now have four medicine balls and over 100 challengers wishing to take on the Medicine Ball Challenge throughout the UK and Cyprus."

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