"The Fund helped me deal with my anxiety and for that I’m very grateful"
When Flight Sergeant Sam Parsley experienced mental health problems, counselling arranged through the RAF Benevolent Fund's Wellbeing Services helped put him on the road to recovery.
Sam, whose role in the RAF involves running four component bays producing replacement parts for the Chinook aircraft, started experiencing mental health problems in 2021.
He said: "In 2021, a perfect storm developed in my life. I was worrying about lots of things at once, including whether to leave the RAF or go for a promotion where I would have to move and leave my children. Then something just tripped, and I had a bit of a breakdown."
According to Sam, these new feelings of anxiety came on almost overnight – one day he was dealing with everything fine and the next he had woken up with a constant feeling of dread.
Sam said: "After two or three days I realised this was something out of the ordinary, and that’s where I was referred to the Fund, who put me in touch with Barbara, a cognitive behavioural therapist."
Being an engineer, Sam’s initial thoughts were 'something is wrong, I just need it fixed,' however, after speaking with Barbara, he realised it would take some time to deal with the root cause of the issue – there wasn’t going to be a 'quick fix.'
Sam added: "I was given tools to recognise when I’ve got too much on my plate, so it doesn’t get to that stage again. Eventually, I got a grip of it. I was able to wake up without feeling I was fighting for my life. I was able to take all my problems and, one at a time, dissect them and solve them."
Sam still uses those tools today – known as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) – and no longer experiences any form of anxiety.
He said: "If somebody was thinking about applying to the Fund for help, I would say do it – that's what it’s there for! It's funded by generous donations and military personnel for that exact reason. I'd like to personally thank the RAF Benevolent Fund for the work they did with myself, as well as the ongoing work they do with current service members, veterans and their families."