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Mental Health of Veterans

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:14 am on 11th March 2020.

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Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence) 11:14 am, 11th March 2020

My hon. Friend is absolutely right that there are some areas in this country where mental health care works extremely well, and models of care that should be promulgated further and rolled out nationwide. The challenge is that we have perpetually judged ourselves by what we are putting into the machine in terms of money and organisation. We have an event in London and we say, “We are providing this for veterans’ mental health.”

The key for me is that the experience of being a veteran in this country in 2020 should be equalised across the country. Plymouth, where I come from, is a military city, so there are some wonderful relationships, and generally speaking someone’s chances of accessing good mental health care are pretty good, but that is not the same all over the country. That is why this kind of leadership in the centralised framework is so important. It is going to shift the dial on what we can present.

In closing, I come back to my initial remark: the vast majority of people leave genuinely enhanced by their service. If we do not have that conversation, my concern is that we will never meet the demand, because it is unrealistically inflated. No one wants to look after these people more than I do, or than anybody else here in this Chamber does, but we must have an honest conversation about it. I believe this structure will enable us to do that, and that we will have a very good service in the years ahead.

Question put and agreed to.

Sitting suspended.