Helping military veterans with common mental health problems
First Step provides psychological treatments for approximately 380 military veterans a year across Cumbria. Not all veterans who come into First Step will have symptoms acquired from their time in service, but approximately 30% will.
We are able to offer treatments for those with have mild to moderate symptoms of problems such as panic disorder, chronic worry, PTSD, OCD and depression.
The Royal British Legion's definition of a military veteran is someone who has served in the armed forces for more than one day. This could be as a regular member, or as a reservist. As signatories of the Armed Forces Covenant we try to offer Military Veterans a first treatment session within our priority time of 28 days.
We also know from our work with veterans that the transition to civilian life from the forces can be difficult. The cause of these difficulties may be the move from an environment that provided daily structure and purpose, or the loss of support and camaraderie experienced whilst serving. The transition process can also involve finding meaningful employment, suitable housing and financial stability. As a service, First Step's primary purpose is in the delivery of psychological therapies, so we have developed relationships and links with organisations and services that are able to step in and support veterans and their families in other ways..
We recognise that when a veteran experiences difficulties so does their family, or that if you are a relative of someone currently serving who is on active service, than this will be a stressful time. Although we do not prioritise family members for treatment in terms of the time they may wait to be seen, our experience and training enables us to offer an understanding of the difficulties military and ex-military families may experience.
Nicky Lavery (pictured above) is our lead practitioner for military veterans and works closely with other organisations to ensure as many military veterans as possible can get the help they need from First Step.
Countywide we offer:
- One to one Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT)
- Computerised cCBT
- Guided self-help based on CBT principles.
- One-to-one counselling.
There are occasions when the symptoms a veteran is experiencing requires a more intensive approach then what we can offer. On these occasions a referral to an alternative service within the NHS may be necessary, the Military specific Transition, Intervention and Liaison (Tils) service, or to Combat Stress who amongst other treatment options deliver a six week intensive programme for PTSD.
If you think you or someone you know would benefit from the First Step Service, you can self-refer or discuss a referral with your GP. You can refer on line via the website or call 0300 555 0345.
Additional sources of support for military veterans and their families:
Combat Stress - support for members of the reserve forces
Combat Stress provides effective clinical treatment and support to Veterans of the British Armed Forces, as well as to currently serving and ex members of the Army Reserve (formerly known as the Territorial Army (TA)) and Reserve Forces, who are suffering mental ill health. Members of the Reserve Forces are normally NHS patients in civilian life and it is of note that there are a number of Army Reserve Units in the North West. Combat Stress treatment and support is delivered UK wide by 14 Outreach Teams and at our three Residential Treatment Centres. Our clients in the North West are visited by our Region Outreach and Community Team, and many also attend our clinical treatment centre in Scotland at Hollybush House just outside Ayr.
Combat Stress also operates a UK wide 24 hour, 365 days a year helpline on 0800 138 1619 for the military community and their families, including Reservists and ex Reservists. Additionally, the Combat Stress Support Desk for the North West can be contacted on 01292 561355 or by e mail to: OutreachNorth@combatstress.org.uk
The Combat Stress Reserve Forces Liaison Officer is Lieutenant Commander Glen MacDonald Royal Navy (Retired), and he may be contacted on 07833 941951 or by e mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
All of their services are free of charge to our clients. Combat Stress is a registered Charity funded partly by the NHS and partly through charitable fundraising and donations etc. More information is available on our website at: www.combatstress.org.uk
The Royal British Legion http://www.britishlegion.org.uk National helpline Freephone 0808 802 8080 open 8am to 8pm
The Armed Forces Community Directory (the Veterans Council) https://afcom.directory/
HELP for HEROES http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk Tel :01980 844 280
Big White Wall http://www.bigwhitewall.com Access is free to members of the armed forces, veterans and their families.