NHS help for military heroes continues in Leeds during Covid-19 pandemic

The manager of a Leeds-based mental health support service for former servicemen and women is reminding  veterans that help is still available during the coronavirus outbreak.

The manager of a Leeds-based mental health support service for former servicemen and women is reminding veterans that help is still available during the coronavirus outbreak.

The Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service helps to improve the lives of ex-armed forces personnel by providing intensive support to those with complex mental health concerns.

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The North of England service is run by Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

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Since it was set up in 2018 the North of England Veteran’s Service has had over 215 referrals, introduced a digital wellbeing group, won a number of awards and developed a wide range of therapies to support veterans.

The coronavirus outbreak has seen veterans with mental health needs go into isolation.

But help is still available and has been adapted to offer more digital services, including video consultations with psychotherapists and support by phone, in response to social distancing rules and travel restrictions in place.

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Vicki Ray is the clinical team manager for the Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service in the North of England.

She said: “We’ve been supporting our veterans across the North of England, adapting our provision and using digital platforms to reach out to them.

“We are working hard to support our veterans who may be suffering from an increase in their post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms and have recently introduced a new virtual well-being group, incorporating practical ways that veterans can adopt when isolating.

“Many of our veterans are really understanding of this and support the efforts that the team and NHS services are making during these difficult times. Veterans can self-refer to the Veteran’s Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service if they are struggling and require further mental health support.”

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Some of the veterans who have used the service spoke about how they have been supported during the coronavirus pandemic.

Kara Sennett, who was a postal and courier operator in the Royal Logistics Corps, said: “It’s been an outstanding service. Ever since I was first referred, I feel like I’ve been in the best hands.

"I was always made to feel comfortable, could take everything at my own pace and have had treatment adapted so it works better for me. I want to say a massive thank you to my psychologist.”

Since the outbreak and lockdown restrictions began, Kara has adapted to having treatment remotely.

She added: “I know I can email my psychologist if I’m stuck with anything. I’m learning new supportive techniques during this period."

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