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Veterans to be trained to spot mental health problems

Up to 6,400 ex-military to be helped by scheme

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 01 May 2013

Veterans and their families are to be invited to courses to teach them how to spot the early signs of mental health problems.

Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter says up to 6,400 ex-soldiers, sailors and airmen and their families will be offered this training which he describes as the mental health equivalent of first aid skills.

The course offered to veterans, their families and to those who work with veterans, will train people to identify the early signs of mental health problems, to feel confident helping someone who is experiencing a problem and to provide help on a first aid basis, including knowing how to prevent someone from hurting themselves or others.

The funding (almost £600,000 from the LIBOR fund - fines levied on the banks for attempting to manipulate the LIBOR interest rate – to the Community Interest Company Mental Health First Aid (MHFA), in partnership with Combat Stress, the Royal British Legion and SSAFA – the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association) will be used to train 200 veterans, their families and people who support them over the next 18 months, who will then go on themselves to train around 6,200 members of the Armed Forces community by the summer of 2015.

Commenting on the scheme Minister Dr Dan Poulter said: “Members of our Armed Forces make a huge sacrifice in serving our country and they deserve the highest quality healthcare and support.

“We know that making the transition from a tour of duty back into civilian life can be difficult for some people. We are determined to ensure that care is there for those who are struggling.

“Training veterans and their families to spot the signs that someone is suffering from mental health problems is a vital first step in them getting the help they need and talking openly about their experiences.”

Peter Poole, Director of Strategic Planning and Partnerships at Combat Stress said:

“Mental Health First Aid Training for the Armed Forces community is another fantastic and practical tool for helping veterans access specialist care and support for their mental health needs.

“On average, Veterans contact Combat Stress 13 years after they leave the Armed Forces, Mental Health First Aid Training will create opportunities for help to reach veterans sooner. Getting Veterans the help that they need and deserve, as soon as possible, can keep families together and save lives.”

Poppy Jaman, CEO for Mental Health First Aid described the funding as ‘encouraging’.

“We believe that having more people MHFA trained will result in ex-service men and women being supported and sign-posted to the correct health services, significantly increasing positive recovery,” she said.

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