My name is Chris Platts, I am currently serving in the Royal Air Force and CEO of Buddy Check. The idea of Buddy Check was born out of a project I started whilst studying on the Percy Hobart Fellowship in 2021. The task was to create something innovative that was not currently out there that could help improve the Armed Forces. Help was the word that stuck in my mind and made me think about what had happened in my life since 2018.
In June 2018 I was serving in SHAPE, Belgium. I was in a very comfortable job, and enjoying life as I settled into family life with my wife and our first child. We were expecting our second child when we went to the hospital for a scan. We found out we had suffered a miscarriage. We suffered in silence and tried to move on with our lives. We found ourselves slipping into a dark hole.
In September 2018 I suffered a back injury. Causing stress fractures to my vertebrae and partial slippage of the disc. The doctor told me to go home and the physio wouldn’t treat me. I was left isolated away from work, friends and family. I saw no way out of the darkness.
In October 2018 I tried to reach out for help but found it a struggle to find the right support for me. I decided to start writing a blog. I shared it on social media and got responses from others who had been in a similar position. They offered advice and guidance on how to cope when things start to become dark again. With this little confidence boost I started to open up to family, friends and work colleagues. I soon found out they too had been through similar experiences and were able to offer further help and support. There was a little light coming back into my life.
In July 2019 me and my wife suffered another miscarriage. This time though, instead of disappearing in to a dark hole, I was able to control it. By writing blogs and being open about my situation to everyone, I was able to keep my mental health state balanced.
In April 2020 while I was on the Fellowship I had the back surgery I needed, and in the October we had the second child that we had been desperately waiting for. With the help of others, and opening up about my troubles, I have been able to get a place where I want to do more for others.
As a community, we in the Armed Forces, naturally have to deal with situations that others do not. We leave home. We go overseas. We fire weapons. We bring life to the world. We see death. We have to leave loved ones for months on end. We are constantly moving around the world. The list goes on. Even when we leave the military, we never truly leave it behind. The experiences that we have during, and after our time in the Services, can negatively impact our mental health, and those around us.
Buddy Check wants to change that. We are providing a safe space to be able to express yourselves and reach out for the help you need it the most. We also want those who have lived these experiences to be able to share and provide guidance to others. We know it can be difficult to take that first step in seeking help. That’s why, as an Armed Forces community, we want to be there with you when you do it. Our peer support network aims to provide you with the tools to communicate with others who have been in your boots, as well as provide guidance and opportunities to reach out to our partner organisations if you need further support. By doing this we hope to give you with the best possible chance of returning to a positive mental health space.
Come join us today, and do a Buddy Check.