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Armed Forces: Mental Health Services

Volume 495: debated on Tuesday 30 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what progress his Department has made on arrangements to meet the mental health needs of veterans; and if he will make a statement; (283035)

(2) how many community veterans' mental health therapists there were in each region of (a) England, (b) Scotland, (c) Wales and (d) Northern Ireland in each of the last five years;

(3) what funding (a) his Department and (b) the Department of Health has provided to each of the community veterans mental health pilots in each year since their inception; and how much has been allocated to each in the next two years;

(4) how many veterans have used each of the community veterans mental health pilots in each year since their inception;

(5) what progress there has been on the pilots to examine ways of meeting the needs of veterans with mental health problems announced in 2007.

Veterans’ health care has been the responsibility of the national health service (NHS) since 1948. The MOD is committed to good mental health and well-being for its personnel both in service and after.

While it appears that most veterans use community wide NHS service provision satisfactorily, including for mental health, the Government have taken a number of specific steps to meet the needs of veterans with mental health issues. These steps include creating the Reservists Mental Health Programme, open to any current or former member of the UK Volunteer and Regular Reserves who has been demobilised since 1 January 2003; the Medical Assessment Programme available to veterans deployed on operations since 1982; and more recently engaging with the four UK Health Departments and the ex-service charities in piloting a new best practice, culturally sensitive, mental health care service for veterans in six NHS trusts across the UK.

Each of the six pilots across the UK are operational and being led by a Community Veterans' Mental Health Therapist. The early take up results of the pilots suggest that veterans are willing to access the service, however the numbers making use of the service are currently being validated and are not yet available. An independent evaluation of the pilots is currently under way with a final report due in 2011. Outcomes will include the range of disorders and the level of demand to inform future service planning and subsequent roll out nationwide.