Mental Health Services: Veterans

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 23 May 2024.

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Photo of Steve McCabe Steve McCabe Shadow Minister (Defence)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of increasing the level of mental health support provided to veterans who have addictions.

Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women)

Since 2015, the Better Care Fund has been crucial in supporting people of all walks of life to live healthy, independent, and dignified lives, through joining up health, social care, and housing services seamlessly around the person. There is no data available on how much of that funding may have been used for veterans. However, since August 2021, there have been four social prescribing pilots in the areas of Cornwall, Durham, Dorset, and Kensington and Chelsea. Between July 2023 and March 2024, the projects supported a total of 226 veterans.

In addition to the social prescribing pilots, NHS England has been operating seven Op COMMUNITY pilot sites which provide support to the wider Armed Forces Community, including veterans. These sites are in the integrated care board areas of Humber and North Yorkshire, Hertfordshire and West Essex, Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, North Central London, Devon, Kent and Medway with Sussex, Bath, North-East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire. Across the seven sites, they have supported 319 referrals relating to veterans.

No formal single assessment has been made to the potential merits of increasing mental health support to veterans with addictions. It is recognised that some individuals would benefit from mental health support, which is why NHS England commissioned Op COURAGE. This is a bespoke mental health pathway that provides support to veterans with mental health issues and addiction issues. The Op COURAGE service is in addition to the support that is available to veterans from locally commissioned addiction and mental health services.

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