Supporting our veterans... one year on

The Veterans' Mental Health Complex Treatment Service marks its first anniversary

More armed forces veterans in the north of England, who are facing complex mental health issues, will receive support as the service designed to help them has had its contract extended for a further two years.

It means that the Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service will be able to see more than 260 extra men and women, who are experiencing challenges as a direct result of their military service, by 31 March 2022.

It comes as the service marks its first year, and since its launch in April 2018, it’s already helped 150 people.

“The Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service is for former forces personnel diagnosed with complex mental illness. Many will have been affected by trauma, so we offer trauma-focused therapies and other support to veterans, including help with substance misuse, physical health, employment, accommodation, relationships and finances,” explains Vicki Ray, Clinical Team Manager for the service.

“It’s been a busy year, and when I look back, I feel proud – not only of the team for everything they’ve achieved in that time but also of those who’ve come to our service. Asking for help can be really difficult and it’s been incredible to see so many of our veterans on their road to recovery.

“We’re now looking to the future to make sure that we continue to provide the high quality service that they deserve.”

Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is one of only five NHS Trusts in the country to be providing this service, and we’re working with Combat Stress, the UK’s leading veterans’ mental health charity, to deliver this service in the north of England.

The service started with a base in Leeds, to cover the Yorkshire and Humber region, and has recently expanded to include a base at the Beacon of Light in Sunderland, to cover the North-East, and at Salford Quays, to cover the North-West.

“Getting the team settled across the region has been a really important part of developing the service,” Vicki adds.

“Even though we’re set up to see veterans wherever they feel most comfortable, it’s great to have these bases established to support the work we’re doing in the community.”

With the service only just entering its second year, there’s been plenty of opportunity to shape what’s on offer and this has been an exciting time for all involved.

For example, in the first year, the Yorkshire and Humber Team developed a group with veterans that focuses on wellbeing. It follows feedback from those using the service that they ‘missed getting out and about with the lads’ – something which was integral to their military lives.

An arrangement is now in place with Cannon Hall near Barnsley, where the group are often invited to volunteer in the 70 acres of historic parkland. So far the feedback has been very positive and we’re looking forward to seeing what comes next.

Who are we?

The NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (VMH CTS) is a specialist community mental health service for armed forces veterans.

It is for those experiencing complex mental illness related to their time in the military, and is here to help veterans regardless of when they left the armed forces.

Our service is for former forces personnel in the north of England – from communities from South Yorkshire and Cheshire up to the Scottish Borders – and is run in partnership with the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health, Combat Stress.

It provides therapies for veterans experiencing psychological trauma (such as post-traumatic stress disorder), alongside a range of other treatments and advice.

We appreciate that the culture of the armed forces is unique and that’s why this service is provided by a team in tune with military needs. Military experience is central to what we do and the service has been shaped by feedback from veterans and their families.

To find out more, click here to visit the Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service, service page.