Ministry of Defence: Mental Health Services

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 26th February 2018.

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Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he is taking to establish within his Department and each service of the Armed Forces improved provision for confidential access to mental health support.

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

Comprehensive mental health support is provided to the Armed Forces, including pre- and post-operational stress management training and a wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments. We regularly review our mental healthcare services to ensure that they provide the best possible patient access and healthcare for Service personnel, responding to changes in local requirements.

Following the major Defence Mental Healthcare Services Review in 2013, it was decided to reconfigure the services provided to improve the provision of care. Instead of focussing services on the Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMHs), we now have 20 permanent locations available for Service personnel requiring mental healthcare, made up of a mixture of 11 DCMHs, six Mental Health Teams (MHTs), and three locations with a permanent Community Mental Health Nurse. The review that initiated this change sought to ensure safe, equitable, quality provision, ensuring all patients access to confidential, professional mental healthcare services.

More recently, in July 2017, we published the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy setting out measures we are taking to further improve the mental health of the Armed Forces and veterans. This includes developing innovative new partnerships with charities, such as that announced in October last year with the Royal Foundation, aimed at helping maintain and develop good mental fitness.

And only last week the Secretary of State announced that we will be building on our existing partnership with Combat Stress to provide a new Ministry of Defence-funded 24/7 Military Mental Health Helpline for serving personnel, which will link into the existing services provided by Combat Stress for veterans and their families. We will also be providing an additional £2million of annual funding for military mental health services, on top of the £20million a year we already spend.

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