NHS England are rolling out an expanded mental health support service for Armed Forces veterans, as a survey found that more than half find it difficult to speak up about mental health issues.
The health service has launched a new campaign to highlight its Op COURAGE service, which now includes enhanced specialist support for addictions.
If you’ve ever served in the UK Armed Forces, are struggling with your mental health and live in England, Op COURAGE is here to help.
— NHS England (@NHSEngland) January 9, 2024
Over the last twelve months, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust have been working to improve the support provided to veterans and armed services personnel, for both staff and patients.
Back in April 2023, the Trust received their Veteran Aware reaccreditation, which makes them one of 147 NHS accredited providers across England, having met the standards laid down by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA).
In addition, the Trust launched their Armed Forces and Veteran Information Packs that are available for identified veterans or serving armed forces members following admission to hospital.
Such support is vital with figures from the 2021 Census revealing more than 7,000 veterans were living in Bolton.
A new survey of over 3,000 veterans and serving personal, carried out by NHS England, found that the majority (around 60%), of those who took part, said they found it difficult to ask for help for mental health issues.
Dr Simon Irving is a Consultant at the Royal Bolton Hospital and has been a driving force for their recently formed Armed Forces Team said:
As a veteran myself, I understand the importance of accessible services that are tailored to veterans and service personnel. This extra support from NHS England is incredible and it makes me proud to be a part of improving services for our patients, at the same time as supporting our staff.
Op COURAGE is a mental health support service designed with a focus on boosting self-referrals, as well as the addition of enhanced addiction support.
After serving in the UK Armed Forces, some people find it hard to adjust to civilian life.
This service works together with Armed Forces charities and NHS services to make sure people who have served and are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing get the specialist care, support and treatment for their specific needs.
If you would like to know more about the support services offered to veterans and the armed forces at Bolton NHS Trust, please email: ArmedForces@boltonft.nhs.uk.