From midday on Sunday 25 February servicemen and women will have a new number to use when calling the Combat Stress helpline. The MOD will support the new number with the biggest internal marketing campaign on mental health they’ve ever run.
The MOD has committed to giving Combat Stress £50,000 in the next financial year to cover the cost of the helpline team taking calls from serving personnel. The increase in calls will not impact on veterans as we have resources in place to manage the rise in demand. Combat Stress and the MOD will also develop information sharing protocols to ensure those service personnel in crisis are provided with the appropriate support.
Sue Freeth, Chief Executive of Combat Stress, 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.
“Left untreated, mental health problems can become more complex and have a devastating impact on those with the condition, as well as their loved ones. It’s vital that people seek help as soon as they notice a change in their mental health.
“Combat Stress has delivered a 24-hour Helpline since 2011. With almost a century’s experience of supporting veterans with mental health issues, we have the knowledge, expertise and understanding to assist serving personnel.”
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has also agreed for the Ministry of Defence to spend an extra £2 million a year for the next decade to improve mental health services in the Armed Forces on top of the £20 million per year that is currently committed. The additional money will fund an increase in mental health specialists and bolstering existing NHS provision.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “Our people are our priority. I want them to know how seriously we take their mental wellbeing. That’s why we have commissioned a new 24/7 mental health hotline and committed to spending an extra £2 million a year on mental health for the next decade on top of the £20 million a year we already spend.
“I will personally be working with the Chiefs of Staff from all three services to make sure there isn’t a single person in the forces who doesn’t know where to turn in times of trouble.”