Prince Harry has been asked to fill a military counselling charity’s £200,000 funding gap as it appears the NHS and Ministry of Defence are going to drop its funding contracts with the charity.
The Big White Wall offers therapy to veterans and their families in helping them cope with many issues related to military service including anxiety, depression, stress, alcoholism and the transition back to civilian life.
The group currently employs 20 people and manages to help 40,000 people around the UK, including 7,000 from the military and their families. The group helps more people than just military veterans, with a strong focus on everyone 16 or over experiencing emotional or psychological distress.
It currently has a funding contract up for renewal with the Ministry of Defence and the National Health Service, as well as Help for Heroes, a charity dedicated to providing better facilities and services to British military personnel wounded in the line of duty.
Big White Wall was founded in 2007 and provides therapy that is different from traditional therapy sessions; an anonymous and safe online platform is provided to provide mental health support and recovery using technology to change the way mental healthcare is delivered. Despite this, and the success of the organisation, it was revealed that only Help for Heroes agreed to renew their funding contract for the group providing their third of the share. It is unlikely that the Ministry of Defence and NHS would be able to find the £100,000 to maintain their part of the service.
With mental health issues in the armed forces rising by 78% in the last eight years, it is clear that more help needs to be provided to serving members and veterans of the armed forces.
James de Bathe, who is the commercial director for Big White Wall, told Prince Harry that Britain faced a shortage of similar services: “There aren’t enough trained counsellors to deal with everything.”
Bathe appealed to the Royal Foundation for assistance to make up the shortfall they would receive if the MoD and NHS did not renew their contracts. The appeal started out first as a joke, and then a serious consideration in an effort to plug the upcoming £200,000 shortfall.
Price Harry seemed hopeful, and since the Big White Wall is part of the Royal Foundation’s mental health campaign, it would be possible to provide funding.
However, Prince Harry also suggested that the service must try to persuade the MoD and NHS that providing online therapy and peer support was more efficient than traditional methods of support.
It is clear Big White Wall has the support of Prince Harry, who served in the armed forces. During his visit and live demonstration of the services provided, he said, “I love this. I might sign up for it myself.”