Call over health services for veterans

SERVICES for armed forces veterans suffering from mental health conditions should be staffed by people with knowledge and understanding of military life, according to academics from Yorkshire.

Sheffield University was asked to evaluate a Ministry of Defence pilot project which trialled new ways of supporting soldiers who needed mental health services. Research found that veterans prefer to deal with staff who have training or experience of working with ex-service personnel because many believe civilian health professionals do not understand military life. It also found that ex-soldiers found it helpful to be able to "self-refer" themselves to receive mental health services.

Defence Minister Andrew Robathan, who is responsible for veterans, said: "The Department of Health will consider the report and examine how its recommendations fit with existing and planned enhancements to NHS veterans mental health services."

The study was carried out by Sheffield's Centre for Psychological Services Research led by Prof Michael Barkham.