We are excited to announce we are launching a new £7.5m Hidden Wounds psychological support programme to support veterans and their families who are suffering from the early symptoms of potentially more serious mental injuries. The programme will enhance treatment already available and will help identify and treat symptoms such as stress, depression and anxiety before they develop into more serious mental health conditions.
Help for Heroes is allocating £4.8m to the new service and has been granted a further £2.7m by the Armed Forces Covenant (LIBOR) Fund. Our partners at the Exeter University CEDAR Centre have helped us to develop specific treatment plans for the Forces which will be used at new Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds Centres. The programme is currently being developed and we plan for the first centre to be fully operational in the next 12 months.
Immediate and specialist support which recognises the culture and unique challenges faced by the military will offer treatment at an early stage to help prevent a decline into chronic mental illnesses. Individuals who need more complex support, for illnesses such as PTSD, will continue to be supported by our partner charity Combat Stress, as well as the NHS. Help for Heroes has already allocated £6.5m of funds to Combat Stress to help it develop specialist facilities and run the Enemy Within campaign.
Help for Heroes applied for the grant from the Armed Forces Covenant (LIBOR) Fund after research by the Help for Heroes Band of Sisters – a support fellowship for the loved ones of wounded, injured and sick Servicemen, women and veterans – showed a common concern that families have about accessing mental wellbeing support delivered by teams who understand the unique nature of military life.
“Anyone who is part of the Forces Family has a set of stresses that are unique” according to Ali Richmond, the wife of a wounded veteran. “ You might be living with the constant stress that your husband is fighting or you might be living with someone who has been affected mentally or physically due to their service. As the wife of someone who was wounded I know that Service affects the whole family, whether it is worrying if they will be alright or if it is worrying about how you and your children are coping. This new service will provide somewhere to turn and a vital life-line for the families of those who serve and those who have served.”
The new service will be available to all veterans of the Armed Forces and their family members and the family members/ carers of serving personnel. Those who are serving are offered mental health support by the Armed Forces.
Commenting on the new programme, Professor Neil Greenberg, Academic Centre for Defence Mental Health, King’s College London, said “Whilst some Veterans, and their families, who have mental health problems require complex treatment packages, currently there is a gap in provision for those with less complex needs, who often have endure considerable delays to access any professional care or treatment at all. This programme will engage with Veterans, and their families, early and deliver evidence based support from an organisation that they trust. The new service will also gather scientific evidence to allow it to develop best practice guidelines for this important group of people.”
We are thrilled to be able to offer further support to those suffering from hidden wounds. Help for Heroes recognises it can take real courage to access support for mental injuries and the Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds programme is designed to offer easily accessible and friendly support which prevents a spiral of decline.
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