MPs pledge support to veterans’ mental health services

NHS and veterans support agencies who work together to improve the health and lives of former armed forces personnel have welcomed support from an influential group of MPs.

Military uniform

The Veterans All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), chaired by James Sutherland MP, met on Tuesday 25 May 2021 and heard from leading clinicians and managers running veterans’ mental health services in the North of England. They included representatives from the NHS as well as its partners Combat Stress and Walking With The Wounded.

Major Dan Brooks, Implementation Manager for the Op COURAGE Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service in the North of England, said: “This was a really important opportunity for us to showcase the work we’re doing to some of the country’s key decision and law makers.

“We were delighted to hear the group’s support for our work. We came with the intention to advocate for veterans and to stress the importance of future collaboration.

“One of our main aims was to get their support to join up efforts between parliamentarians and the existing partnership between the Ministry of Defence, the Office for Veterans’ Affairs, the NHS and charity providers. I’m pleased to announce they are now looking to set up a working group and we’ve been invited to contribute to that.

David Rowley, Head of Operations for Regional and Specialist Services at the Trust, added: “It’s vital that veterans’ mental health remains high on the agenda so conversations like this really count. We look forward to briefing parliament again in September.”

Dr Felix Davies, Director of Operations at Combat Stress, said: “We are committed to working in close partnership across the sector, as we know this is key to providing joined-up and high quality services to veterans. We welcome the interest from the APPG and are keen to progress the proposals we have discussed today in partnership with parliamentarians.”

The Op Courage Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS) is part of a wider network of specialist mental health services available across the North of England. The HIS works alongside the Veterans’ Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS).

The HIS provides care and treatment for former armed forces personnel across the North of England who are in mental health crisis and need urgent help. Since its launch in November 2020, they’ve already provided vital support to more than 150 veterans and their families. The service is delivered in partnership between the NHS and well-established veterans’ support charities, Walking With The Wounded and Combat Stress.

Together they provide:

  • Support to crisis care services for veterans presenting in a mental health crisis
  • Support during an inpatient unit stay – including access to a clinician advice line 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • Care navigation – helping veterans and their carers find the local services best suited to their needs
  • Support and care for family members and carers where they need it.

Find out more about the HIS on their website.