Mental health problems are common and can affect anyone, including veterans and their families.
Although it's completely normal to experience anxiety or depression after traumatic events, this can be tough to deal with. Symptoms or problems coping can happen at any time, including a few years after leaving the armed forces.
Some people delay getting help for a number of reasons, such as trying to cope alone, fear of criticism, embarrassment or feeling that the NHS will not understand.
Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health or wellbeing, expert help is available from Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service.
It does not matter if you're due to leave the armed forces, just left the armed forces or left many years ago. Op COURAGE are here to help and understand the courage it takes to speak to someone.
When you contact Op COURAGE, you’ll speak to people who:
- understand the armed forces and military life
- are either from the armed forces community or highly experienced in working with serving personnel, reservists, veterans, and their families
- will work with you to make sure you get the right type of specialist care, support, and treatment
How Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service can help
The first step to getting help is to contact Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service.
You can contact the service yourself or ask your GP, a charity or someone else, such as a family member or friend, to do this for you.
The service will arrange for you to have an assessment, to make sure you get the right care and support.
Everyone is different, so the service offers a range of treatments, including:
- working with Defence Medical Services to make sure you get mental health care and support as you transition from the military to civilian life
- recognising the early signs of mental health problems and providing care and treatment for this
- therapeutic treatment for more advanced mental health conditions and psychological trauma
- intensive emergency care and treatment if you’re in a crisis
- helping you to access other NHS services if needed, such as "Improving access to psychological therapies" (IAPT) and eating disorder services
- working with charities and local organisations to support you with your wider health and wellbeing needs, such as housing, relationships, finances, employment, drug and alcohol misuse and social support.
Support for armed forces families
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health and wellbeing, the rest of the family can be affected.
Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service can help your family get care and support from local services. With your permission, they can also be involved in your care plan.
To get help from this service you must:
- be a resident in England and have served in the UK armed forces for a full day
- be registered with a GP practice in England or be willing and eligible to register with a GP
- provide your military service number or another form of eligibility
How to contact Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
North of England
Call 0303 123 1145 or email firstname.lastname@example.org The Op COURAGE urgent care and support service is accessible by healthcare referral only.
The Midlands and East of England
Call 0300 323 0137 or email email@example.com (includes the Op COURAGE urgent care and support service).
Call 020 3317 6818 or email firstname.lastname@example.org (includes the Op COURAGE urgent care and support service).
South East England
For services in Sussex, Surrey or Kent, call 020 3317 6818 or email email@example.com.
For services in Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Oxfordshire or Buckinghamshire, call 0300 365 2000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the Op COURAGE urgent care and support service, call 02394 387 924 or email email@example.com.
South West England
Call 0300 365 2000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Urgent and emergency support from other NHS services
If you experience a mental health crisis you can also get help by dialling 111, booking an emergency GP appointment, visiting A&E or calling 999. If you're still serving, you can also call the military mental health helpline on 0800 323 4444.
Registering with a GP
If you've left the military, it's important to register with an NHS GP and tell them that you've served in the armed forces so you can access dedicated services for veterans.
About Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service
This is the new name for:
- the Veterans' Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)
- the Veterans' Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS)
- the Veterans' Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS)
The new name has been developed to make it easier for those leaving the military and veterans to find help.
It was developed following feedback from the armed forces community and with support from NHS England and NHS Improvement Armed Forces Patient and Public Voice and Lived Experience Groups.