On a special visit to mark Time to Talk Day 2019, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Tobias Ellwood, MP, heard about the work staff including psychologists are doing to help servicemen and women, many of whom are still suffering trauma - often years after they have left the armed forces.
The Trust’s Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) sees hundreds of ex-military personnel from across London and the south east every year, treating some and signposting others to alternative, appropriate assistance. They have seen ex-military from conflicts ranging from the Second World War and Korea, through to more recent ones including Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr Ellwood said: “Here at Camden and Islington NHS Trust, veterans can receive specialist support – nationally this service has already helped more than 5,000 ex-service personnel and their families get mental health support and ease their transition to civilian life.”
The programme helps tackle the early signs of mental health difficulties and also includes help with alcohol and drug abuse, along with social support, such as employment, housing and finances.
Mr Ellwood said: “It’s great to see the increasing support that veterans can access and on Time to Talk Day I encourage anyone who may be struggling to reach out to get the help they need.”
Anyone can refer themselves to TILS by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, they can ask their GP or an Armed Forces charity to refer them. You can find out more about TILS at www.veteransservicelse.nhs.uk
Dr Sue Ferrier, Lead Clinical Psychologist and Co-ordinator of the Veterans’ Mental Health TILS and Complex Treatment Service, said: “It is often the first step which is the hardest to take for someone suffering trauma from their time in the Forces. We would urge anyone who is in this position, no matter how hopeless they may feel things are, to get in touch with us so that we can give them the help they need.”
Veteran Steve Gardner, 46, served in the first Gulf War and the Falklands, and received help from the Trust to cope with his own trauma having left the army. He said: “Staff at the Trust gave me my life back. I feel much more able to cope now and will always be grateful for the time and effort put in by the LVS staff to help me.”
Neil Davies, who joined the Parachute Regiment at 17 and was in conflict zones from the age of 18, said: “Traumas can affect people in many different ways and for soldiers it is seen as a weakness to even talk about memories of conflict. I spent many years suffering before my GP finally seeing a GP who knew about the service at St Pancras Hospital and referred me. Coming here was one of the best things I have ever done.”