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Armed Forces: Mental Health Services

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 29th November 2016.

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Photo of Lord Browne of Belmont Lord Browne of Belmont DUP

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to provide a dedicated 24-hour mental health helpline for serving soldiers.

Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is absolutely committed to looking after the mental health of our Armed Forces, and provides a range of community-based health care in line with national best practice. We appreciate that personnel with mental health issues might need access to help outside normal working hours, and we provide this by working in close partnership with a variety of different organisations, including the NHS and Service charities.

In most areas of the UK, immediate out of hours care includes the free 24-hour mental health helpline run by the charity Combat Stress (which receives funding from MOD), and the Big White Wall, a 24-hour online community. In Northern Ireland, we provide MOD-managed telephone support for Service personnel for primary healthcare, as there is no contracted independent service provider for this type of health care in that part of the UK.

In the most serious cases, where urgent treatment is required, we are able to arrange emergency admittance to one of eight specialised inpatient NHS mental health units, under a contract between MOD and a consortium of NHS Trusts. These units have a range of dedicated facilities for military personnel, and admission can be arranged at any time of day or night.

We believe that these arrangements are robust and effective, and there are therefore no plans to provide an additional helpline.

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