The Ministry of Defence and Combat Stress have launched a new partnership to provide a 24 hour mental health helpline – 0800 323 4444 – for serving military personnel and their families.
Alongside this announcement, the Defence Secretary has also agreed to spend an extra £2-million a year for the next ten years to improve mental health services in the Armed Forces on top of the £20 million per year that is currently committed.
The additional money, which brings the total planned spending to £220 million over the next decade, will be put towards an increase in mental health specialists and bolstering existing provision.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“It is our moral and professional duty to ensure that we do all we can for our world class troops. That’s why we have commissioned the new 24/7 Combat Stress mental health helpline and will spend an extra £2 million a year on mental health services for the next decade on top of the £20 million we already spend each year. I will personally be working with all the service chiefs to make sure there isn’t a single person in the forces who doesn’t know where to turn in times of trouble.”
Supporting this new arrangement, the Veterans’ Gateway, which was launched in in mid-2017, will continue to provide a 24-hour single point of access to a range of support services for the Veterans and Armed Forces community. This includes access to mental health support providers such as Combat Stress, and all needs and advice from employment to housing, finance to transition and pensions.
Chief Executive of Combat Stress Sue Freeth said:
“We welcome the opportunity to work with the MOD to provide mental health support to serving personnel. A significant minority of servicemen and women develop mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. We know they can delay seeking treatment while in the Armed Forces, with some preferring to come forward for help after they have left the military.”
Last year the MOD launched its Defence People Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy focusing on preventative measures to protect military and civilian personnel. It is also partnering with the Royal Foundation, a charity set up by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, to improve training and education alongside the strategy to promote mental fitness.