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ScarletPimpernel

Mental health services for veterans

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There seems to be a lot of confusion around mental health services for veterans. There's a myth that circulates, usually on social media, that there's no support for veterans with mental health problems, especially PTSD. It's untrue, and it's unhelpful for those who are suffering because it could make them think it's not worth asking for help.

 

Part of my job is training people in mental health, including the Armed Forces community. I also train NHS and local authority staff around the Covenant and working with the AF community. I thought it might be useful to post some up to date information.

 

The NHS has specialist mental health services for veterans:

NHS Transition, Intervention & Liaison Service

A dedicated, local, community-based service for veterans and those transitioning out of the British Armed Forces with a discharge date.

The service provides a range of treatment, from recognising the early signs of mental health problems and providing access to early support, to therapeutic treatment for complex mental health difficulties and psychological trauma. Where appropriate, help is also provided with other needs that may affect mental health and wellbeing, for example housing, finances and employment, reducing alcohol consumption, and social support. Veterans can self-refer, or can be referred by a GP or charity.

 

 

Veterans Complex Mental Health Service

This is an enhanced local community based service for ex-service personnel who have military attributable complex mental health problems that have not improved with earlier care and treatment.

 

 

Many ex-Service charities also provide health care help and advice - see Veterans' Gateway or COBSEO for details.

 

My own view is that if you are looking for treatment from a charity, stick with COBSEO members (all those on Veterans' Gateway are), because they use evidence-based therapies which have undergone clinical trials. That is not to say that other therapies don't work, but without proper trials it's not possible to know whether they are genuinely effective, and whether they stand the test of time. Personally, I wouldn't go near anyone who says their therapy 'just works', or says that they don't need clinical trials.

 

It's also worth remembering that what works for one person doesn't necessarily work for another; finding the right treatment can involve trying several different methods and referral to different specialists; and recovery takes time, patience and commitment, and often includes highs and lows.

 

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