Veterans' mental health

NHS bolsters veterans’ mental health service

The NHS has moved to expand its veterans’ mental health support with a new awareness campaign highlighting its Op COURAGE service.

Launched by NHS England in 2017, the service has seen more than 30,000 referrals over its lifespan, including over 4,500 between April and November 2023.

New health service research revealed that the majority (60%) of veterans and serving personnel find it difficult to address their mental health issues and ask for help.

Despite this, self-referral was the leading way (44%) in which people accessed Op COURAGE.

This has led to NHS England redesigning the veterans’ service, with a renewed focus on boosting self-referrals, as well as the addition of better addiction support.

Johnny Mercer comment

More than half (52%) of the circa 3,095 respondents reported either currently or previously experiencing a mental health problem – this was similar (54%) for physical health problems too.

The support provided through Op COURAGE is delivered from experts from the armed forces community, or those with extensive experience of working with the military.

“This sets them up to provide a non-judgemental service and build trust with those seeking help,” explained NHS England’s associate medical director for armed forces and veterans, Dr Jonathan Leach OBE.

Former Royal Marine and Invictus Games medallist, JJ Chalmers, is supporting the new awareness campaign.

He said: “The wonderful thing about Op COURAGE, is that it has been developed by veterans, for veterans – the trained NHS professionals you’ll speak to are from the Armed Forces or have experience of working with the community.”

Image credit: iStock

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