After Help for Heroes raised concerns with MPs about the provision and understanding of Veterans Mental Health, the Defence Select Committee has announced it will be examining the extent of mental health issues across both serving armed forces personnel and veterans this year.
In a letter to the Chair, Dr Julian Lewis, the Charity highlighted the increase in medical discharge rates, and the impact this will have on the level of support available to Veterans if funding issues are not addressed.
Head of Psychological Wellbeing, Karen Mead, welcomed the announcement saying: “Almost 500 individuals were discharged in 2016/17 with mental health issues - this has increased by 90% since 2012. NHS practitioners are doing a great job with what they have, and we know recent reforms to armed forces mental health provision are still taking effect. Help for Heroes believes that the increasing burden being placed on the NHS means that it is now the time to make sure the services these Veterans need are fit for purpose”
The NHS aims to see 95% of patients seeking mental health support within in 18 weeks; however, in some parts of the country wait times are in excess of 9 months for veterans. Help for Heroes also has concerns that the Government is not placing enough emphasis on those with complex care needs. The charity is urging policy makers to have in the forefront of their minds the needs of these individuals who are discharged despite requiring more specialist care.
Help for Heroes CEO, Mel Waters said “Help for Heroes believes that those who have put their own lives second in service of their country, deserve a second chance at life. I am pleased the members of the Select Committee regards the needs of Veterans as a pressing issue. Much work has been done in the past year to improve the standard of care and pathways of support for when it might be needed. However, it is unacceptable that those brave men and women of our Armed Forces are still being made to wait in excess of 9 months to access the support they need and more importantly deserve.”
“It’s incredibly important to make sure support is not only available but also fit for purpose and timely. I thank the committee for recognising this and responding to our call for a review.”