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Mental health stigma - Who helps who?

For those serving in the Armed Forces (including mobilised Reservists), the MOD has worked hard to improve patient care in the area of mental health – the Defence Medical Services have implemented new interventions and mental health professionals are deployed to the front line.

Who helps who?

The MOD is committed to providing appropriate training at all levels for its Service Personnel, whether as part of routine career development or as part of an operational deployment. The Stress Management Training Centre coordinates the delivery of such training and each of the three Services has its own training delivery team.

Help for Reservists

The Reserves Mental Health Programme, run in partnership with the NHS, is open to all current or former members of the UK Volunteer and Regular Reserves who have been demobilised since 1 January 2003, following operational deployment overseas as a reservist and who believe that their deployment may have affected their mental health.

Help for Service Families and Veterans

In the UK, the NHS is responsible for delivering healthcare for the families of those serving and veterans. Mental healthcare is a multi-agency delivery effort and the MOD and UK Departments of Health are working with the NHS and Service charities, including Combat Stress, to promote awareness of Veterans’ and Service family issues.

The Defence Medical Services provide healthcare services to families who accompany their serving family member when posted to our major bases overseas.

Armed Forces Covenant and Mental Health

The Armed Forces Covenant states that the Armed Forces Community should enjoy the same standard of, and access to, healthcare as that received by any other UK citizen in the area they live.

MOD has published information leaflets aimed at veterans, serving personnel and their families outlining how the Covenant can help them. If members of our Armed Forces Community feel they have been disadvantaged accessing public services these leaflets will help to identify where to go to address the problem. Download the document from the right-hand panel.

Fighting Fit: Mental Health plan for Servicemen and Veterans

The Government commissioned Dr Andrew Murrison MP to look in particular at the support for Service personnel and veterans who may suffer from mental health problems due to Service. The MOD is working closely with the Department of Health to take forward the recommendations in Dr Andrew Murrison’s report, ‘Fighting Fit’, which was published in November 2010.

Link to the report in the right-hand panels for key recommendations.

Mental health support and contact details

If you are in urgent need of mental health support or advice for you or a family member please see the contact details below

Mental health support and contact details for soldiers

Your first point of call should be your:

  • chain of command
  • unit medical officer
  • welfare officer or
  • chaplain
    if you are in the UK or overseas.

They are there to help and offer the best advice. Contact numbers for medical out of hours support are available through your medical centre.

  • In an emergency you should contact your local medical officer. If your local medical officer is unavailable and you are in England, Scotland or Wales contact your local NHS A&E unit. In Northern Ireland, Medical Reception Station Aldergrove operates 24/7 telephone manning with access to appropriate specialists.
  • Additionally, Combat Stress/Rethink offer a 24-hour freephone helpline if you have concerns about your mental health: Tel: 0800 138 1619. They provide emotional support, a listening ear and signposting service.

Big White Wall is an online early intervention service for people experiencing emotional distress. It offers anonymous support 24/7 through a trial for serving personnel, veterans and their families. The service combines social networking principles with a choice of clinically informed interventions to improve self management of mental wellbeing. Big White Wall is continually staffed by Wall Guides and has access to senior clinicians from the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust 24/7. Big White Wall is currently a trial for serving personnel, veterans and their families and an evaluation of the trial will take place in due course.

Visit the Big White Wall website by following the link in the right-hand panel.

Minimising risk

Soldier standing in front of sun

Measures are in place to reduce risk and increase awareness of mental illness at all levels.

Trauma management

Soldiers running for Chinook

A system called Trauma Risk Management (TRiM), designed to identify personnel at risk after traumatic incidents.

Delivery of care

Operating theatre lights

There are 15 military Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMH) providing outpatient mental health care in UK.

Reserves programme

The Reserves Mental Health Programme is available to Reservists who have returned from operations since 2003.

parade of soldiers