Armed Forces: Mental Health

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 13th February 2019.

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Photo of Jim Cunningham Jim Cunningham Labour, Coventry South

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to support the mental health of new recruits in the armed forces.

Photo of Mark Lancaster Mark Lancaster The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence is absolutely committed to the mental health of all Service personnel. Maintaining good mental health, and providing treatment when required, is fundamental to maintaining a fit, healthy, and effective military force. Our operating model, as set out in the 2017 Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy, focuses on the four main strands of Promote, Prevent, Detect and Treat.

Recruits are entitled to the same primary and specialist mental healthcare as their trained counterparts, and initial training includes sessions on stress management, including how to recognise the early signs of a problem, and where to obtain help. A key issue is tackling the perceived stigma around mental health, and this is reinforced by training in programs such as Mental Health First Aid and Trauma Risk Management (TRiM).

For personnel who do need treatment, we can provide a wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments. The backbone of this care is formed by our 11 military Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMHs) across the UK, plus a network of six satellite mental health teams and a range of visiting clinics, all of which support the provision of healthcare that is available through Service primary care facilities.

Last year, the Secretary of State for Defence announced an additional £2million of annual funding for military mental health services, on top of the £20million a year already spent. Nationally, staffing in DCMHs has increased by 12 posts, and we are working with our in-patient hospital provider (Midlands Partnership Foundation Trust) to provide additional access to treatment through an outpatient psychotherapy service.

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