Mental Health Awareness Week and why our armed forces and veterans need support 52 weeks of the year

At Hilary Meredith Solicitors, we are delighted to support this week’s Mental Health Awareness Week.

Mental Health Awareness Week is the UK’s national week to raise awareness of mental health and mental health problems and inspire action to promote the message of good mental health for all.

Mental health provision is particularly important in our armed forces.

A report last year found that UK military personnel, veterans and their families are being “completely failed” when they need mental health care.

The report, by the House of Commons Defence Committee, said it was a “scandal” that a “shamefully small” part of the UK’s health budget was spent on support for veterans.
This followed on from an earlier study by King’s College London saying PTSD amongst serving Army personnel and military veterans has increased in the last 10 years.
Most sufferers were veterans who saw active combat; 17% reported symptoms of probable PTSD.
There are a number of military charities, such as Combat Stress, doing fantastic work helping former servicemen and women deal with issues like PTSD, anxiety and depression.
As is well known, mental health issues often come to light 5 to 10 years’ after leaving service.
Those who leave the forces early, through injury, are particularly vulnerable. We have seen young men and woman with horrific injuries, survivors of double and triple amputations, go on to achieve incredible things.
The comradeship in the military and the strength of personality to get up and not only walk but to run, ski, play sports and compete at high levels is phenomenal.
However, that group of ex-service personnel will become an ageing population and injury will take its toll. This is when mental health issues come to light – when competing in the likes of the Invictus Games is no longer an option and normal life with severe injury becomes a reality. The MoD needs to have a plan for the future as well as the present.

Another issue is the post operational support given to armed forces service personnel undergoing judicial process.

We have already seen how thousands of our soldiers were wrongly hounded over incidents in Iraq, interrupting their lives and frazzling their mental health.
While the Ministry of Defence has made significant efforts to improve mental health provision for service personnel and veterans, Mental Health Awareness Week serves as a reminder that so much more needs to be done for 52 weeks of the year.

Hilary Meredith