Mental health support for veterans is a top priority of mine. Having lost an ex-serviceman friend of mine to suicide in the 1990s, I know first hand the extent to which mental health trauma can blight the lives of ex-servicemen and women and the families and friends that support them.
Post-traumatic stress and post-traumatic stress disorders are certainly evident in some veterans with some disorders taking months or years to manifest themselves. They can be minor or major, but both have an impact on veterans’ lives.
Locally, Combat Stress and other mental health charities do a great job in supporting our veterans. The charity’s work has helped thousands of ex-servicemen and women over many years. The charity also provides valuable respite care for families.
The government is also committed to helping the mental welfare of ex-service personnel as well as others all in the community.
In recent months and weeks, the government has announced:
An increase in mental health spending to a planned £11.86 billion in 2017/18.
• An additional spend of £1 billion by 2020/21 to support a new national strategy.
• Increasing talking therapy completions by 600,000 per year.
• A review of the Mental Health Act by Prof. Sir Simon Wessely.
• £10 million for mental health care to veterans, to mark the centenary of the Armistice.
• A minimum of £2 billion per year extra for mental health services.
• New mental health crisis centres, providing support to every A&E in England.
• More mental health ambulances, and a 24-hour mental health crisis hotline.
• An extra £20.5 billion for the NHS over the next five years. Including a record £312M investment in Telford and Wrekin and Shropshire.
The Veterans Trauma Network also aims to provide a safety net for trauma-recovering veterans and service personnel, to ensure their lifelong healthcare needs are met.
The government has also enshrined into law the Armed Forces Covenant, which is an iron-clad commitment to ensure all ex-service personnel, as well as their families, are treated according to their needs. Veterans can apply for this help through multiple local providers.
Having met with serving armed forces personnel on the ground, in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the UK, I can testify first hand to their dedication to duty and the very many pressures they can face when leaving our armed forces.
Veterans’ mental health remains a personal and political priority for me. All of us can do our bit to help.
Mark Pritchard MP