Fighting fit – Big White Wall, online mental well-being service is deployed for action
Monday, May 14, 2012
Simon Burns MP confirms future funding following a successful pilot of Big White Wall for serving personnel, veterans and their families.
Health Minister, Simon Burns MP, has announced £400,000 funding for a pioneering initiative by award-winning online mental wellbeing service, Big White Wall (www.bigwhitewall.com), to provide support services to promote the mental wellbeing of UK veterans and their families. This represents a long-term commitment by the government to address their mental wellbeing and ensure a smooth transition into civilian life.
The announcement, made during an official visit to Big White Wall and its joint venture partner The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust in North London, follows a successful pilot scheme which has seen the service attract over 2,500 registered users in the last nine months alone.
This clearly illustrates the pivotal role that the confidential, anonymous, online therapy services provided by Big White Wall can play in helping support the emotional and psychological needs of the Armed Forces community. Further support has been received from Help for Heroes who provided a grant to co-fund the pilot scheme with the Department of Health and who have committed a further £300,000 to the initiative.
As part of this newly funded programme, the Armed Forces community will have free unlimited access to Big White Wall’s online services, which include the ability to discuss issues – from PTSD to addictions, disability and injury to anxiety and depression – anonymously in forums with their peers as well as with specially-trained counsellors who can offer immediate support. With so much stigma incorrectly associated with seeking treatment for mental health disorders, particularly in the military, Big White Wall offers a discreet and confidential platform where help can be sought anonymously, allowing for early intervention in potentially serious psychological conditions.
Simon Burns MP, Health Minister commented: "We understand that many veterans feel a stigma attached to seeking help for mental distress. That is why initiatives like the Big White Wall are so invaluable, allowing veterans and their families to talk to others in an anonymous yet interactive space.
"The Department of Health is proud to announce that the Big White Wall will receive £400,000 over the next three years, allowing more veterans to benefit from the support provided by this wellbeing network and its professional counsellors.
"It is by funding services such as the Big White Wall that are easily accessible and trustworthy that we can create an environment in which members of the Armed Forces community feel understood and can take important steps towards recovery."
Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, Andrew Robathan, said: “I am delighted this important resource has been given additional funding by the Government and Help for Heroes. Looking after the mental health of our people is a key priority. I am particularly pleased that they will be able to continue to benefit from the Big White Wall by discussing the issues they face through this website.”
Commenting on the announcement, Jenny Hyatt, CEO and Founder of Big White Wall said: “The success of the pilot scheme has demonstrated that there is a huge appetite amongst the Armed Forces community for issues around their mental wellbeing to be addressed in a secure and confidential environment.
“The invaluable funding from the Department of Health and Help for Heroes will enable us to extend the programme and ensure continued help and support is there 24/7 for those who are most in need.”
Big White Wall is the only online wellbeing service that combines social networking principles with a choice of clinically informed interventions to improve mental health. Available 24/7, recent developments include the introduction of Live Therapy which, developed through funding from the NHS National Innovation Centre, offers safe, remote online access to a course of real time therapy and extends the choice of, and accessibility to, a broad range of psychological therapies. Live Therapy will officially launch in June 2012.
Since Big White Wall began in 2009, the service has supported 7,000 people across the country and has been commissioned to support thousands more by a range of healthcare and other organisations.