Mental health matters: mental fitness through sport

By on 15th May 2019

Deptherapy & Deptherapy Education were the worthy winners of the 2018 Soldiering On Award for Healthcare and Rehabilitation (organisation), for their major contribution in providing exceptional skill and commitment to the healthcare treatment, recovery and rehabilitation of members of the Armed Forces Community and Veterans. They were also finalists in the 2019 Education, Training and Development category.

Deptherapy & Deptherapy Education has challenged the scuba diving world with its specially-created adaptive training courses for Veterans with life changing mental and physical injuries. As well as teaching Dive Masters across the world how to work with disabled divers and undertaking research projects, the organisation runs a suicide prevention Buddy system.

Dr Richard Cullen, Chairman and Head of Operations, explains.

“It is almost impossible for someone who has not suffered a life changing physical injury to understand the impact of losing one limb, let alone two or more and, additionally, suffering devastating injuries to other parts of your body both externally and internally.  Some we work with have suffered massive physical injuries and at the same time suffer acute PTSD.  Others do not have PTSD but all agree that the experience of suffering major physical injuries does change you mentally.

“The mentality in the Armed Forces is very much ‘adapt and overcome’ and they bring this to their rehabilitation.  I have witnessed people stare, maybe in disbelief at programme members’ injuries especially if they are in wheelchairs or using prosthetics.

“Those we work with show a lot of resilience in changing with their new body image, despite – in many guys – going from being a young fit man – to a few seconds later, after stepping on an IED, being the same person but with massive physical damage. Overwhelmingly they are happy with their new image but some do baulk at those who stare or point.

“I was diving in Mexico a few years ago with Richard Ward (formerly Household Cavalry) who had lost both legs to an IED blast.  Richard did not like people staring at him.  We were lying on loungers and a young American boy kept coming over and looking at Richard’s stumps. The parents kept calling him back but he kept returning.  Richard sat up and started to put his prosthetics on much to the amazement of boy.  As he pulled his second prosthetic on he said to the boy, “I am a Power Ranger!”  The boy was shouting to everyone “Look, look a Power Ranger!””

Deptherapy & Deptherapy Education’s Facebook blog this week is following the Body Image theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and programme members with life changing physical injuries are telling their stories, how they see themselves and how others see them. There are also stories of people without visible physical injuries who are suffering from PTSD. You can follow these powerful blogs each day at https://www.facebook.com/deptherapy/.

About Renée Wallen

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *