A new report has, for the first time, summarised how the mental health needs of British armed forces veterans are being met.
The report published by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) sets out the findings from a review of the mental health needs assessments of former service personnel and their families. It provides a summary of how those needs are currently being assessed and supported, and has been welcomed by NHS England.
Drivers behind FiMT’s research include addressing knowledge gaps, ensuring NHS resources are wisely spent and improving understanding of the mental health issues faced by our former servicemen and women.
The Report’s Recommendations
A primary focus of the review was on Joint Strategic Needs Assessments (JSNAs) which analyse the health needs of a population in order to guide the commissioning of essential health and social care services within a local authority area.
The report uncovered various problems with JSNAs that have resulted in significant gaps in the coverage of veterans’ health needs. FiMT have proposed a ‘framework for action’ to ensure that our former soldiers’ mental health needs are adequately met, and recommendations include:
- Better use of data and information – because of the variations in coverage of veterans’ mental health needs in JSNAs across England, FiMT say national guidance should be introduced giving advice on how to effectively ensure these needs are addressed
- Evidence-based services – there should be further development of appropriate and sensitive evidence-based services for veterans and family members
- Let veterans and their families be more involved – FiMT highlighted a need for former service personnel and their families to have a stronger voice in how mental health needs are met
Mental Health and Former Armed Forces Personnel
Over the last year, the UK has seen a 25% rise in mental health referrals among British armed forces veterans and it can take veterans an average of 13 years following service to seek help.
Thankfully nowadays there is greater awareness around the psychological impact of military service and the stigma surrounding mental illness – and having the courage to speak out about it – is diminishing.
FiMT’s new report and the recommendations it proposes are welcomed. Anything that leads to better collaboration between health and social care providers in meeting the mental health needs of our veterans can only be a good thing.
I’d now urge once again for the Ministry of Defence to work closely with health ministers to ensure that the NHS has the support it needs to implement the proposals put forward by FiMT.
Zoe Sutton is a Personal Injury Solicitor specialising in Military Personal Injury Claims at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers offer a free consultation for armed forces personnel injured during military service. Most claims are funded through a No Win, No Fee Agreement which means there is no financial risk to you.