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Armed Forces: Reserves Mental Health Programme

Volume 687: debated on Tuesday 21 November 2006

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Derek Twigg) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In May 2006, the then Veterans Minister announced that the Ministry of Defence would later this year be introducing an enhanced post-operational mental healthcare programme for recently demobilised reservists. He undertook to make a further announcement to confirm the details of the service.

I am now pleased to be able to confirm that the programme, to be known as the Reservists Mental Health Programme (RMHP), will become operational with effect from 21 November 2006.

The programme is open to any current or former member of the UK Volunteer and Regular Reserves who has been demobilised since 1 January 2003 following an overseas operational deployment and who believes that the deployment may have adversely affected their mental health.

An individual who thinks that they are eligible and who would like an assessment should ask their GP for a referral. This is the preferred method of contact, to ensure that both the GP and the RMHP assessors are kept aware of all the factors affecting the individual's health. Referrals from civilian psychiatric services are also accepted but the patient's GP is to be kept informed. In exceptional circumstances, individuals can contact the assessment centre directly. The programme is being co-ordinated by the Reserves Training and Mobilisation Centre (RTMC), Chilwell, Nottinghamshire.

Eligible reservists will be offered a mental health assessment. This will be conducted at the RTMC by appropriately qualified members of the Defence Medical Services (DMS). If an individual is assessed as having an operationally related mental health problem that is amenable to treatment by the RMHP, then they will be offered out-patient treatment by the DMS. This will be available at one of MoD's 15 departments of community mental health in the UK, which will offer treatment in consultation with the individual's GP. The programme will be monitored in order to ensure that it meets the needs of demobilised reservists. The programme will run for an initial period of three years, at which point there will be a formal review to decide whether it should continue or be modified.

Further details of the programme are available at the RTMC website

The Reserve Forces continue to make a vital contribution to the ongoing success of military operations. In return, we have a duty of care to them, and this new programme is an important enhancement of the medical services that we provide.