COMMENT: New centre is welcome, but more needs to be done

They keep us safe and serve their country with pride – but what happens when it’s the service men and women themselves who need our help?

Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 7:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 2nd April 2019, 7:31 pm

Veterans’  experiences in uniform can often leave them battling mental health issues once back in civvy street. But the concern is that they end up suffering in silence.

Eventually, for some the only way out is suicide. A shocking estimate that as many as one ex-serviceperson a week is taking their own life tells its own story.

So it’ s pleasing to report today how almost £700,000 has been presented to the Portsmouth Military Mental Health Alliance through the armed forces covenant. The money will be used to create a flagship mental health centre for veterans.

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Crucially, a new ‘open access’ hub will be able to provide ‘on the day’ support – speeding up when veterans can begin their treatment. Added to that will be a ‘rapid response’ service, where veterans will be able to help others affected by the horrors of conflict.

The third strand will be the Solent Recovery College, focusing on education about mental health problems and successfully dealing with them.

We’re delighted for all those who have campaigned for better mental health services for veterans. Now they can look forward to Portsmouth being the home of a pioneering service.

But we recognise that there’ s still a long way to go for us as a nation when it comes to dealing with military mental health. As MPs today discuss the UK’s veterans suicide crisis in a debate secured by Portsmouth MP Stephen Morgan, there’s a pressing need to commit more NHS resources.

And it's time coroners recorded veteran suicides, just like they do in Australia, Canada and the USA. Because we believe accurate, public data is crucial to the extent of the problem being recognised.