Veterans: Mental Health Support

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9th July 2018.

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Photo of Chris Davies Chris Davies Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire 12:00 am, 9th July 2018

What steps he is taking to improve mental health support for members of the armed forces and veterans.

Photo of Bill Grant Bill Grant Conservative, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

What steps he is taking to improve mental health support for members of the armed forces and veterans.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

One third of us will suffer some form of mental health problem during our lifetime, and the same applies to those in the armed forces. It is very important that we challenge the stigma that surrounds mental health and ensure that we equate mental health with physical health. I am therefore pleased that we are moving forward with our mental health and wellbeing strategy, which encourages our service personnel to step up so that we can treat at an early stage.

Photo of Chris Davies Chris Davies Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire

I am sure that my right hon. Friend values the work carried out by the charity sector in this field, with organisations such as Combat Stress, Change Step and Care after Combat conducting vital work in support of military veterans. Will the Government therefore consider funding these charities, or giving them further funding, so that they are able to do more?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend gives me licence to thank all the service-facing charities for their work—there are more than 400 of them. I have had the honour of visiting Veterans’ Gateway, which is a simple online portal that brings together organisations, giving those who seek help one place to go to for support. My hon. Friend is absolutely right that we need to ensure that these charities are funded. The MOD does not directly fund them, but we do fund individual projects. I would be more than delighted to meet him to discuss the matter further.

Photo of Bill Grant Bill Grant Conservative, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock

I am sure that the Minister will agree that it is vital that the UK Government and devolved Administrations work together on this important issue of mental health. Will he assure me that he is working closely with the Scottish and Welsh Governments to ensure that all veterans and service personnel have access to the high-quality mental health support that they so richly deserve, irrespective of where in the United Kingdom they reside?

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Wherever veterans are in the United Kingdom, we must ensure that every one receives the support that they deserve. That is why the Veterans Board brings together the devolved Administrations, and the MOD health partnership board brings together the health specialists from all the devolved nations and England.