The Minister for Veterans Affairs, Johnny Mercer MP, praised staff and called them “heroes” during a visit to St Pancras Hospital.
The Minister heard about the success of our Veterans’ Service, Op COURAGE and spoke to veterans about their experiences on leaving the armed forces and of mental health services. Many described how they had faced challenges after leaving the forces and had, initially, not known where to turn. Several veterans praised the Veterans’ Service, Op COURAGE, and said that there needed to be greater awareness of the work it does among former service personnel.
Mr Mercer told service users and staff: “The evidence shows that if you work with mental health services, you can get better and live a fulfilled life and can be an active and contributing member of society. To the staff, you guys are heroes, you have committed yourself to helping others and you have changed lives already.”
Thanking staff for their work, he told them he wanted to work to get waiting lists down and improve access to services across the country and he was pleased to hear about the work being done by Op COURAGE in London.
C&I Assistant Psychologist and veteran, George Tyldesley, gave a presentation outlining the successes of Op COURAGE. He said: Across a range of measures, we can see that veterans have a significant reduction in symptoms during treatment, with anxiety and depression reducing from severe to mild, over time.”
He explained that a recent evaluation of the service had found that veterans in treatment for PTSD with the Complex Treatment Service had benefited, on average, by large reductions in the severity of their PTSD symptomology, with 62% these veterans scoring the threshold for PTSD after treatment. Similar improvements were shown in the treatment of veteran depressive symptoms, with around three quarters of veterans experiencing only moderate or less anxiety upon completion of treatment, and half of veterans reporting minimal anxiety upon completion of treatment.
Mental Health Nurse Tim Riley explained how the service works with voluntary sector partners to address issues such as housing, benefits and social needs.
Lead Clinician for the Veterans’ High Intensity Service (HIS), Sophie Jones, told the minister that everyone who contacts the service and needs urgent help, is seen within 72 hours. The HIS gives veterans intensive support, usually in the community, with regular meetings to address mental health needs as well as social and financial issues.Pictured, from left: Assistant Psychologist George Tyldesley, Mental Health Nurse Tim Riley Peer worker Neil Pressley, St Pancras Transformation Programme Director Malcolm McFrederick, Minister for Veterans Affairs Johnny Mercer MP, Psychiatric Nurse, Terrance Nichols, Walking with the Wounded Veteran Liasion Support Officer for London Vikki Elliot, Lead Clinician for HIS Sophie Jones