Funding of total £220 million will be released over the next ten years to support Armed Forces mental health services.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson agreed to spend an extra £2-million a year for the next decade to improve mental health services in the Armed Forces. This amount is on top of the £20-million per year that is currently committed.
The news was announced together with launch of the new Military Mental Health Helpline. The number 0800 323 4444 is available 24 hours a day since Sunday 25th February. Its launch will be supported by a communication campaign on mental fitness across the Armed Forces services.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
“Every hour of every day our safety, security and way of life are protected by our courageous Armed Forces personnel. They are always there for us – often risking life and limb and making huge personal sacrifices – and we must be there for them in their own time of need.
“Mental illnesses caused by life on the battlefield can have a devastating impact on our brave heroes and their families. 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 Military 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.”
The number will act as a memorable and accessible gateway to mental health services for service personnel and their families, Surgeon General of the British Armed Forces Major General Martin Bricknell said.
The helpline service is run by the leading veterans mental health charity Combat Stress by a team of specially trained professionals. The Ministry of Defence and Combat stress are working together to provide appropriate support for any serving personnel in crisis is.
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.
“Combat Stress has delivered a 24-hour Helpline service 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.”
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