‘Get help’ urges former Doncaster airman

Help For Heroes of Jon Knott, a  former RAF officer whose career was ended by multiple sclerosis and is calling on more service personnel to seek help for any mental health problems after being given a lifeline by a Help For Heroes project.
Help For Heroes of Jon Knott, a former RAF officer whose career was ended by multiple sclerosis and is calling on more service personnel to seek help for any mental health problems after being given a lifeline by a Help For Heroes project.
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A former RAF officer from Doncaster is calling on more services personnel to seek help for mental health problems.

Flight Lieutenant Jon Knott suffered a life-changing loss of self-worth when he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, ending his 27-year career in the RAF.

Mr Knott, aged 47, was medically discharged in January 2014 after being diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2006 and progressive MS in 2011 as his condition deteriorated.

He is urging troops to seek help from the Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds project, known as HHHW.

After feeling like he was struggling in an “anxious loop that could not be broken”, Mr Knott now says he has the tools to try to move forward, despite knowing his worsening illness will one day force him to use a wheelchair.

Mr Knott served in the Falkland Islands. He struggled to contain his anger at his failing mobility, and felt “cheated” by his illness.

He became frustrated as his focus began to fail and he could no longer take pride in doing things as well as he used to, and worries about how he would provide for his wife Vicky and daughter Jade added to his problems.

After pressure from friends and family to seek help, Mr Knott made contact with HHHW which has helped almost 1,000 veterans since being launched in September 2014.

HHHW offers free and confidential support to veterans, their relatives and the families of those still serving who are struggling with common mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression or anger.

It has recorded a 66 per cent increase in referrals, growing from 304 in the year to September 2015 to 505 a year later. Of those 505, at least 341 were veterans or reservists and at least 100 were family members of veterans or service personnel.

Mr Knott said finding someone who understood military life and could chat informally, before advising and challenging him, was a big boost, helping to improve his approach to life.