Mental Health Services for Veterans
You are not alone
Below is a list of countrywide Mental Health Services for Veterans and their families. It is compiled from information provided by the London Veterans Service and some personal research. These services have been set-up to cater specifically for ex-military: they understand us, our lives, stresses and issues, and help hundreds of us each year. Rank, length of service, operational or non-operational, are not used as a filter; if you have served one day with the military, you are in!
Services are regionally based but all operate a ‘no wrong door policy’, in other words: ‘seek help first and you may be redirected but you will never be turned away’. Don’t forget your GP either; they can also refer you though not all may be as well informed about Veterans’ Services as perhaps they should be. Self-referrals are encouraged but note that, at some stage, the health professionals providing these services will generally ask to inform your GP. This is not to breach your confidentiality but to understand if some physical health issue is affecting your mental well-being or, if medication is prescribed, that there are no side-effects. This will be discussed fully with you.
The majority of services are provided by an NHS Trust or combination of trusts however another route to help is via service charities. Combat Stress and Walking with the Wounded are particularly active but so is the Royal British Legion and, of course, the Fusiliers Association, both of whom can direct you to help.
There is also an anonymous, online community free to military veterans and their families provided by The Big White Wall: https://www.bigwhitewall.com/landing-pages/landingV3.aspx . Click on the link, then press ‘Join Now’ and that will take you to a Veterans Eligibility page. Note that while therapy (‘getting you better’) is available through Big White Wall, it may be better to access this through ‘face-to-face’ routes first. The real strength of Big White Wall is reminding us all that ‘we are not alone’ and providing mutual support through what can be a long and arduous slog.
How it works
You do not need to be suffering from PTSD or another acute mental health issue to seek help. About a third of us have some form of mental health need at some time in our lives and being ex-forces is widely regarded as an additional risk factor; throw-in divorce and/or family break-up, bereavement, resettlement and transition, perhaps unemployment and other social and economic stresses and it is a wonder that we’re not all forming an orderly queue outside one of these clinics. Just as you wouldn’t hide a broken leg or the famous ‘sucking chest wound’ so there is no need to hide a mental health problem. What assuredly doesn’t work is the ‘self-medication’ route of, Booze, Bongs and (ultimately) Bullet or (high) Bridge.
Initially, most services will invite you to attend an assessment which is, exactly as the name suggests, a structured conversation to understand what is happening. It is thorough and searching but also completely confidential. The assessor will write back to you detailing what you discussed and may recommend a course of therapy (often provided by one of the charities) or, in really serious cases, may direct you to specialists. It’s ‘horses for courses’ though; everyone is different and what your colleague or mate had, may not be right for you. The best thing a mate can do is point someone towards professional help, not share his pills.
If you’re unsure what to do and want to talk to an ex-Fusilier now involved in providing mental health services, then please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org ; leave your name and phone number and I will call you back.
List of Services – Emergency
If your, or a family member’s, life is in danger, don’t hesitate, dial 999, ask for Police or Ambulance and, if you have time, explain there is a Veteran involved.
Combat Stress’ emergency, 24 hour, contact details are:
Call 0800 138 1619
Text 07537 404 719
Finally, don’t forget the Samaritans who also have a 24/7 response service, as follows:
Tel: 116 123 (UK & ROI). All calls are free
List of Services – Non-Emergency
Liverpool Veterans; for information or 24/7 self-referrals:
For email enquiries:
Tel: 0161 716 3000 or Talk Liverpool Service, 0151 228 2300 (provided by Mersey Care NHS Trust).
Cheshire and Merseyside (excluding Liverpool)
Military Veterans’ Service: https://www.penninecare.nhs.uk/your-services/military-veterans-service/
Tel: 0300 323 0707
Yorkshire and Humberside
Veterans Outreach Service:
Tel: 01482 617594
The Veterans’ Wellbeing Assessment and Liaison Service (VWALS):
Tel: 0191 441 5974
MIDLANDS AND EAST ANGLIA
Veterans First (Essex): http://www.nevmhn.org.uk
Tel: 01206 228759
Veterans’ Mental Health Services (East Midlands):
Tel: 01952 822 753
Note this particular service is provided in conjunction with Combat Stress and this number takes you through to their offices.
West Midlands Military Veterans’ Hub: http://veterans.sssft.nhs.uk/veteranservices/west-midlands-regional-veterans-service
For any further information please contact Rob Heath 01785 257888 Ext 5615
Fax Number : 01785 221233
Free phone for clients 0800 500 3113
(Please note that the service in London and the South-East is planned to change, probably in Apr 17. On the cards is a joint service provided by the London Veterans’ Service and the Sussex Armed Forces Network: the changes will be promulgated once known but, for now, please use these contact details).
London Veterans’ Service: http://londonveterans.nhs.uk
Telephone: 020 3317 6818
South Central Veterans’ Mental Health Service
Phone: (0118) 9296426
South West Veterans’ Mental Health Service (Avon and Wiltshire)
Tel: 0300 555 0112 (9 – 5) or leave a message with NHS Direct, 0845 4647
Surrey Engagement: Reservists and Veterans Emotional Support (SERVES)
Phone: 0808 801 0325 (9 – 5); crisis, (1700 – 0900), 0300 456 8342
SMS 07717 989024
Sussex Armed Forces Network
Tel: 01273 403693
Tel: 029 2074 2062
Tel: 0131 550 1569
Fax: 0131 557 5819
Note, there does not appear to be a specific Veterans’ Mental Health contact so I recommend contacting the above or go via your GP.
This information is incomplete and it is difficult to find a clear single POC.Best general point of access is via GP or the Royal British Legion 0808 802 8080. If you have also served in the UDR or R Irish (HS) then contact their ‘aftercare service’, http://www.aftercareservice.org/index.htm )
Remember – YOU ARE NOT ALONE