Armed forces veterans have been asked to share their experiences of mental health services in a bid to help improve future care across the country.
They are being asked to take part in an NHS England survey launched to get the views of veterans who access services as they move from military to civilian life.
The survey, which runs until March 31, is a chance for veterans to share their experiences and views of existing mental health services and to understand the reasons why some people have not sought or received support and treatment.
The NHS provides 12 mental health services across England specifically for veterans. With new contracts due in the next year, this is an opportunity to develop future services that take account of current experiences.
Councillor Allan Barclay, Hartlepool Borough Council’s Champion for the Armed Forces, said: “This is a great opportunity for armed forces veterans in the town who have accessed mental health services to help improve future care.
“I am particularly pleased that the survey also looks at understanding why some people have not sought or received support or treatment, as we need to ensure veterans get the help they need at the time they need it the most.”
Dr Jonathan Leach, chairman of NHS England’s Armed Forces and their Families Clinical Reference Group, said: “On leaving the armed forces, most people successfully transition back into civilian life. But some individuals can experience very traumatic situations whilst serving in the military before facing the additional challenges of moving back into civilian life, all of which can take a severe toll.
“While mental health awareness is improving, we can do more to identify issues not just with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder but with wider problems linked to anxiety and depression. We are asking for feedback from veterans, their families and NHS specialists so that the right care and support is available early and easily for those who need it.”
It is hoped that thinking about their experiences will help to start breaking down some of the stigma when it comes to talking about mental health issues.
For further details on the survey, please visit: https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/survey/veterans-mental-health-services
Anyone who doesn’t have access to a computer or the internet can call (0203) 688 1615.