Skip to main content

Veterans: Mental Illness

Question for Ministry of Defence

UIN 51211, tabled on 31 October 2016

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to prevent cases of mental ill-health among combat veterans.

Answered on

8 November 2016

The Ministry of Defence takes the mental health of its personnel very seriously. Maintaining good levels of mental health and wellbeing is achieved using a "through life approach" and the application of a wide range of measures based around a model of prevention, early detection and treatment. No system can guarantee to detect every individual at risk of a mental health problem. Nevertheless, measures are in place to increase awareness at all levels, including pre- and post-operational stress management training, a wide range of psychiatric and psychological treatments, and initiatives such as Trauma Risk Management. We are working hard to reduce the stigma that can be attached to mental health issues, and to encourage people to come forward. The Army's "Don't Bottle It Up" campaign is one such initiative.

We also provide a wide range of effective treatments for those who need them. In Iraq and Afghanistan, we deployed uniformed mental health nurses to provide in-theatre care and treatment for our personnel. Theatres were visited by consultant psychiatrists every three months or so, who provided clinical and administrative support.

In the UK, we have a network of military Departments of Community Mental Health (DCMHs), that are located to be convenient for major centres of military population, and that support the provision of healthcare that is available through Service primary care facilities. A wide range of clinically-approved psychiatric and psychological treatments are available, including medication, psychological therapies, and environmental adjustment where appropriate. If required, in-patient care is provided in dedicated psychiatric units through a central contract with an external provider.