Many of our Veterans and serving soldiers are suffering in silence from PTSD due to the stigma and controversy surrounding mental health issues. Bluntly, men and women have died, are dying and will continue to die if we don’t reach out to help them. We can start making a change now. I’m asking you, for their sake, please help.
There is scientific research, carried out by ‘The Johns Hopkins University’ in the US, showing that scuba diving in WARM, CLEAR WATERS can elevate the body’s serotonin levels, which has been shown to relieve PTSD symptoms. Please read link - Scuba Diving Improves Function of Body, Mind in Vets
PTSD – Progress Through Scuba Diving started up in 2019 after reading a post by Veteran Kevin James (now our Director of Diving Operations) on a social media platform. Kevin was offering any Veteran or Serving Soldier, who was suffering from PTSD, that could get themselves out to him in the Bahamas free, one to one scuba dives.
Kevin explained that he had read a medical study conducted by The John Hopkins University which had mentioned that while studying the benefits of scuba diving for injured Veterans they found that after those Veterans had dived, some had said that, along with helping the pain from their physical injuries, their PTSD symptoms were also reduced.
Apparently, it is widely known (wasn’t by me though) that scuba diving elevates the body’s serotonin levels, which has also been shown to relieve some PTSD symptoms - Kevin hoped to prove that scuba diving could have the same benefits for all PTSD sufferers.
I’ll be honest and say that although I was very sceptical that it would work, it did not take much persuasion at all from my husband, Jim Mathieson (Diver A, and our Vice Chairman/Treasurer) to get me booking our trip over because for me, a holiday to the Bahamas sounded amazing, and if the dives did help Jim’s PTSD in any way it was an added bonus.
After the first few of his dives I did notice small changes in Jim’s sleep in that he didn’t jolt at all through the night, but, ever the sceptic, I put it down to tiredness from travelling and of course the ‘holiday effect” from our beautiful surroundings. But as the week went on, I noticed more and more changes in Jim, not only with him sleeping soundly throughout the night now but with his overall demeanour.
Near the end of our first week, we were sat in a small café eating lunch and chatting about how the dives were going and as I looked at him, I could see the twinkle had appeared back in his eyes and he looked genuinely happy and at ease for the first time in over 10yrs. I don’t think I’ll forget the emotion I felt looking at him in that moment, because I knew PTSD no longer had a grip on my husband. I will be forever indebted to Kevin for the difference he has made to both of us and our family.
On our return to the UK, we heard from Kevin that, after hearing how the scuba dives had helped Jim’s PTSD symptoms, a very kind and generous friend of his had now gifted a return flight from the UK to the Bahamas for another PTSD sufferer. This led to Veteran and PTSD sufferer, Trevor Cowell, now having an opportunity to see if these scuba dives could also help to relieve his PTSD symptoms.
Trevor’s experience with his PTSD symptoms after the scuba diving, very closely echoed that of what Jim had expressed - with the same “brain fog” lifting and having a feeling of now being able to think clearly.
When we heard this from Trevor, we knew that these scuba dives needed to be made available to Veterans/Serving troops, who were struggling in their PTSD battle. We also realised that to do this we needed funds and so our JustGiving page was started and shortly after we also applied for our charity status.
That was back in 2019, since then we’ve helped a few more PTSD sufferers. We struggled to do much during ‘Lockdown’ due to travel restrictions, but our team kept busy with fundraising and spreading the word that these dives really can make a difference to PTSD.
It’s taken a lot of work and it definitely hasn’t been easy going at times but seeing the difference we’ve made to each PTSD sufferer we’ve sent out and hearing how their outlook on life has now changed, was more than enough motivation for us to keep going.
I’m happy to say that (although it’s taken almost 3 years) we finally achieved our charity registration in Northern Ireland, on March 18th, 2022.
PTSD - Progress Through Scuba Diving (NIC108392).
We’re hoping that becoming a fully registered charity can help to open a few more avenues for the essential funding needed by us to continue offering our UK Veterans and Serving troops the opportunity to explore the benefits of our therapeutic scuba diving on their PTSD symptoms.
All our work is voluntary and dependent on the generosity of individuals like yourself no matter how small your donation or purchase from our shop you will be assisting in helping a veteran learn to live with their condition and allow them to have a better life.
Please consider a small donation on our just giving page it will make such a huge difference.
We are a small charity based in Northern Ireland, that provides scuba diving trips to relieve combat-related PTSD symptoms in our UK Veterans/Serving Soldiers. We do this through various fundraisers and from the generosity shown with donations to our JustGiving page.
PTSD - Progress Through Scuba Diving - Registered Northern Ireland Charity No NIC108392.