A ‘front door’ into mental health services will be opened for 17,500 veterans as the NHS pours £9 million into a new project.
Focusing on transition, intervention and liaison (TIL), the new phase in NHS England’s Five Year Forward Plan will be providing specialised mental health treatment for ex-armed forces personnel and personnel approaching discharge.
NHS England asked veterans, serving personnel and their families what they would like to see in the new service, which launched on 1 April, and what it could do to build on provisions already available. The aim is to ensure a smooth transition from armed forces healthcare to the NHS and civilian life.
Available across England, service personnel approaching discharge and veterans will be able to either self-refer or request referral via their GP or mental health provider or through a military charity like Combat Stress, the Royal British Legion or Help for Heroes.
An initial face to face assessment will be offered within a fortnight and where appropriate, a clinical appointment two weeks later.
Combat Street chief executive Sue Freeth said: ‘We are pleased to see NHS England has launched the TIL veterans’ mental health service. This new service will help ensure a smooth transition from armed forces healthcare to the support available to veterans in civilian life.
‘NHS England has also extended the specialist commissioning contract for our Intensive Treatment Programme (ITP) for another twelve months. The ITP, for veterans with PTSD, compliments this new TIL service.’
The service has been designed to help recognise some of the early signs associated with mental health difficulties and will provide access to a number of interventions, therapeutic treatments for complex problems and psychological trauma and prevent patients reaching crisis point.
Falklands veteran Matt Stoodley said: ‘Having used the NHS South Central Veterans’ Mental Health Service, which TIL replaces, I cannot stress enough the importance of the NHS and military charities, without which the plight of veterans’ mental health would go undiagnosed and not be treated correctly.’
TIL will help tackle some of the most common mental health issues such as alcoholism, anxiety and depression. There are plans for the service to provide help and support on practical issues such as housing after discharge, as well as quick access to social care where necessary and an out of hours contact in the event of an emergency.