Veterans encouraged to talk about mental health

Clinical Nurse Specialist Vicki Pattenden SUS-180628-125740001
Clinical Nurse Specialist Vicki Pattenden SUS-180628-125740001

Veterans are being encouraged to talk about their mental health and seek specialist NHS help if it is required in the run up to Armed Forces Day on Saturday (June 30>

The London and South East Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison (TIL) Service helps armed forces veterans get faster access to mental health support no matter where they live in Sussex and the South East.

The service, which launched last year, is provided by Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust in collaboration with Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.

It is available to any ex-member of the armed forces who is concerned about their mental health. It can also support those who are up to six months away from being discharged and are preparing to transition to civilian life.

The specialist service helps veterans to access treatment and support for mental health issues, as well as providing therapeutic treatment for complex mental health difficulties and psychological trauma

Veterans can refer themselves for help; alternatively referrals can be made by any health and social care professional, such as GPs and social workers, or representatives from armed forces support charities.

All referrals are looked at by a single team of trained mental health professionals. An initial face to face assessment is offered within two weeks and where appropriate, a clinical appointment within another fortnight.

Veterans may be linked to local support services or in cases of more complex mental health problems, are seen by specialist practitioners who have an understanding of military culture and what individuals may have been through.

Vicki Pattenden, Sussex Partnership’s clinical nurse specialist within the South East Veterans’ Service, said: “We know that veterans can find it extremely difficult to talk about their experiences and to open up about their mental health.

“A common worry is that civilian services are not going to be able to help them, so they don’t come forward and ask for support. That’s why we’ve set up this specialist service, to give them confidence that we’re going to understand their background and the issues they’re having, and to make sure that they get the right help at the right time from the right people.

“I urge anyone who is concerned about their mental health, or that of a loved one, to talk to their GP, or to one of the veterans’ support organisations, who can put them in touch with our service. The first step is often the hardest, but by taking it we can help them, and their family, to get their life back on track.”

As well as operating in Sussex, support is available to ex-service personnel living in, or registered with a GP in, Surrey, Kent and Medway, London and Greater London.

For more information visit Sussex Partnership’s website.