Veterans Health – Community Veterans Mental Health Service
In recent years, there has been a special focus on mental health, both for the wider UK community and specifically for the armed forces and veterans’ populations. For serving personnel, a new operational stress management policy has been developed. This emphasises the prevention of mental illness through training and support and, where problems do arise, early detection and specialist referral. It is recognised that stigma and fear of discrimination can prevent people seeking help appropriately and a key aim is to change the culture.
There is now good evidence for effective interventions for many of the health problems seen in veterans and, in 2005, with the cooperation of Combat Stress, MOD funded an independent review of the Society’s programmes by the specialist independent Health and Social Care Advisory Service (HASCAS) to ensure that the treatment offered and its place in the wider NHS were appropriate.
The HASCAS report made recommendations to enhance the care offered by Combat Stress to funded war pensioners but also indicated that the real issue was wider mental health services for veterans in general; the pattern of service across the UK being variable. We have therefore engaged with the 4 UK Health Departments to address the wider problem. New in-service healthcare arrangements based mainly in primary care and at the Defence Community Mental Health teams across UK have also been introduced.
In response to the HASCAS report, officials from MOD, the four UK health departments and Combat Stress have been working together, advised by a clinical expert group, to devise and implement a new model for veterans’ mental health services. The model is community-based and in line with NHS practice and procedures. It aims to deliver evidence based interventions which are culturally sensitive and to improve health professionals’ awareness and understanding of veterans and military life and mental health problems.
Page Modified: 23 November 2007