Suicidal military heroes thrown lifeline as NHS launches Op Courage mental health service

VETERANS suffering a mental health crisis are to receive more support than ever before after a new alliance was struck between health workers and military charities.

Saturday, 6th March 2021, 12:00 am

The scheme, known as Op Courage, has been launched by the head of the NHS Sir Simon Stevens.

It has united doctors, nurses and other NHS with military charities to provide therapy, rehab services and, in extreme cases, inpatient care to hundreds of veterans each year.

Those needing urgent help will receive a same day referral.

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Daniel Arnold and Stephen James, founders of armed forces support network All Call Signs. Photo: Ian Hargreaves

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The ‘high intensity’ treatment has already been trialled in some areas and will be rolled out across the country by next month as part of Op Courage, which brings together specialist services for veterans.

And spearheading the movement locally is Southsea’s own forces charity, All Call Signs.

Whenever Hampshire veterans facing a serious mental health crisis dial the NHS’s 111 service, they will be put through to one of the charity’s dedicated army of peer support workers.

Working hand-in-glove with the NHS, the award-winning team – which has rescued more than 100 missing suicidal veterans since it was set up in 2018 – will help find ex-forces personnel rapid treatment.

Stephen James, co-founder of All Call Signs, said: ‘Op Courage is a huge step forward for the vision of a joined up veterans’ mental health service that offers tangible results in mental health and wellbeing, and improvements to quality of life.

‘Portsmouth is like winning the lottery when it comes to social and clinical support pathways for veterans in crisis… but getting access to the right support and treatment when life gets too tough to do it alone shouldn’t be a lottery win – it should be available to every veteran and family member in their time of need across the country.’

Military charities like All Call Signs will help bridge the gap between NHS medical experts, helping them to understand the unique experiences and traumas faced by troops who have risked their lives for their country.

Over the last two years the health service has expanded mental health services as part of the NHS long-term plan.

More than 13,000 former troops have benefited from specialist care for lower level problems such as anxiety and depression.

Almost 2,000 more have received help for more complex problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The new service, which is expected to treat around 500 people a year, will focus on those in crisis, at risk of self-harm or suicide, or suffering other problems such as homelessness and addiction.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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