Former Motherwell soldier Daniel McColl’s life fell apart after leaving the army and he admits he is lucky to be alive.
Spiralling into drug addiction led to him losing his job, and becoming estranged from his family, but it wasn’t until his bedsit burned down he realised things had to change.
Fortunately there was a support network in North Lanarkshire to help him, but this is not the case in all areas.
Daniel said: “When I left the army it felt like I’d lost any real sense of purpose. This led me to fall in with a bad crowd and that’s when I began drinking and taking drugs.
“It got so bad that I lost my job and became estranged from my wife and family. It wasn’t until an accidental fire destroyed the bedsit I was living in I realised just how bad my situation had got.
“I’d never heard of the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) and its services for people who are homeless and coping with addiction, however North Lanarkshire housing referred me and it’s safe to say without SAMH I probably wouldn’t be alive today.
“The level of care I received was excellent and I got to learn from members of staff who had been in similar situations to me, which gave me hope.
“During my time there I was given the opportunity to gain a football coaching certificate which was a fantastic experience and helped me develop skills in a sport I enjoy.
“Since leaving the service I have rebuilt relationships with my family, my wife and I recently had our second child together and I’ve got a stable job which allows me to support my family.
“Thankfully in my case, there was a service locally that could support me in my recovery, although I’m not sure this is the case for a lot of people. It is important services like this are available throughout Scotland and people know of them in the event they have to seek out this kind of support.”
Daniel is backing SAMH’s ‘Ask once, Get help fast’ campaign which challenges all Scotland’s party political leaders to sign up to a ten-year vision that ensures a new approach to the next mental health strategy – one which prioritises prevention and early intervention.
Daniel said: “It is time for our mental health system to have an ‘ask once’ approach where anyone who needs mental health support will be offered an appropriate recovery-focused source of help at the first time of asking, within a clear timescale.”