Campaign to raise awareness of expanded mental health support for veterans | News and events

Campaign to raise awareness of expanded mental health support for veterans

A new campaign has been launched yesterday (9 Jan) to raise awareness of an expanded support service for armed forces veterans.

The move comes as a survey found that more than half of veterans find it difficult to speak up about mental health issues.

Op COURAGE provides a number of different interventions that are important to veterans and now includes enhanced specialist support for addictions.

In the East of England, the service is provided by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) along with partners from other mental health trusts across the region and charities such as Walking With the Wounded, Warrior Programme and Mental Health Matters.

The survey by NHS England was undertaken between April-May 2022 and received 3,095 responses. It showed that around 60% of those who took part, said they found it difficult to ask for help for mental health issues.

In Norfolk and Suffolk, Op COURAGE brings together three services – the Veterans Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS), which was delivered by NSFT, the Veterans Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and the Veterans Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS).

This unified service supports people of any age who have served in any of the armed forces (including reservists) at any time, for any duration. Clinicians can help veterans with a wide range of mental health issues, irrespective of whether these are related to their military service. They can also help address other concerns, such as relationships, housing and finances, and can offer support to families and carers.

Nationally, the service has seen 30,000 referrals since it was first launched by the NHS in 2017, 4,500 of those from April-November 2023. NSFT figures show 400 referrals in the East of England since April 2023, an average of 44 a month. 

There are about 2.4 million veterans living in the UK, with the Office for National Statistics suggesting 149,000 of those living in the East of England, about 4% of the adult population.

Stephen Curnow, Deputy Service Manager at NSFT: “Veterans can access a wide range of specialist service under one team, which is simpler and quicker for them to get the help that they might need.”

One veteran who has used the service said people needed to spread the word about Op COURAGE: “The service is absolutely amazing. I can’t believe how quickly things happened and switched into place. I have felt supported throughout the whole process and have already recommended the service to other veterans.”

Associate Director of Nursing at NSFT, Diane Palmer said: “In addition to Op COURAGE, NSFT also runs a number of veterans’ support groups, has a network of Veterans Champions across the trust and has been running the Veterans Stabilisation Programme (VSP) since 2014. We also have a trustwide enhanced offer for veterans under our core services, ensuring their wider welfare needs are met.”

Call 0300 323 0137 or email to make a referral or to self-refer. See Norfolk and Suffolk Foundation Trust website for more information. Search Op COURAGE. There is also more information on the NHS website.

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