Military veterans asked how to improve mental health services

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Armed forces veterans in the north east are being asked to share their experiences of mental health services to help improve future care.

NHS England has launched a national survey looking at what is provided for veterans to help them move from military to civilian life.

The survey is a chance for veterans to share their experiences and views of existing mental health services and for NHS England to understand the reasons why some people have not sought or received support and treatment.

In addition to seeking views from veterans, family members and carers, it is hoped that staff and organisations providing treatment and support in this area will take part.

In our region, former members of the armed forces can get help from the Veterans’ Wellbeing Assessment and Liaison Service (North East) – VWALS.

The service has specialist staff to care for ex-forces personnel with mental health needs. They are then directed to the most appropriate service to make sure that they receive the best care possible.

With NHS England due to award new contracts for this next year, this is an opportunity to develop future services that give veterans and their families the right support and treatment.

Dr Alistair Blair, NHS Northumberland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Chief Clinical Officer and a local GP, said: “On leaving the armed forces, most people move smoothly back into civilian life. However, some individuals can experience very traumatic situations while serving in the military and struggle adjusting to life outside the forces.

“While mental health awareness is improving, we can do more to identify issues, not just with post-traumatic stress disorder but with wider problems linked to anxiety and depression. I would encourage veterans and their families and NHS specialists to take part in this survey so that NHS England can get a clear idea of the right care and support needed.”

For further details on the NHS England survey, please visit