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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

 

Mental Health Assessments for Ex-Service Personnel


 

 

The Veterans’ and Reserves Mental Health Programme (VRMHP) formerly known as the Medical Assessment Programme (MAP)


The Veterans and Reserves Mental Health Programme (VRMHP) is located at the Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH) at Chetwynd Barracks, Chilwell, Nottinghamshire where it has been integrated with mainstream Defence Mental Health Services (DMHS). It is staffed by both military and civilian clinicians with extensive military experience and knowledge and offers a free national service to ex-service personnel who fulfil the following criteria for eligibility and feel they would benefit from seeing a consultant with a military background:

  • A Mental Health Examination for any ex-service personnel with operational service since 1982 (including veterans of the Falklands Conflict). Over 4000 assessments have been conducted since the service opened. The assessment will be made available to referrers with treatment suggestions and signposting to relevant agencies. Treatment for any diagnosed condition is the responsibility of local NHS mental health services (except for Reservists – see below).
  • Reservists (i.e. Serving or ex members of the Territorial Army, Royal Air Force or Royal Naval Reserve) who have served on operations since January 2003 (i.e. Iraq and Afghanistan). In the event of a diagnosable disorder deemed attributable to operational service an individual may be referred to their local DCMH for treatment by Defence Mental Health clinicians.
  • The VRMHP also offers free advice and information to individuals, families, health professionals and interested parties about the mental health of veterans.
The purpose of the VRMHP is:

  • To assess, and attempt to understand, the psychological difficulties experienced by ex-Service personnel presenting to the service.
  • To provide advice to individuals, families, and health professionals about the mental health of veterans in their care.
  • Where possible, to provide diagnoses and management strategies for individuals and the medical and mental health professionals involved in their care.
  • To collate anonymised statistical information as a resource for study of this population by authorized researchers who have obtained the appropriate ethical clearance. No information about named individuals is given to third parties without written consent from the individuals concerned.

Free advice and information:

Freephone 0800 0326258

Phone: 0115 9574606

Email: APHCSEDCMHCHL-VRMHP@mod.uk

Websites: Ministry of Defence and Veterans UK (follow links to MAP)

Referral to the VRMHP

GPs and Mental Health Professionals are encouraged to refer patients who meet the eligibility criteria and who are concerned that their mental health may have suffered as a result of military Service. All GPs and patients receive a copy of the assessment report.

Please refer cases to the following address:

VRMHP
DCMH Chilwell
Chetwynd Barracks
Chilwell
Nottingham
NG9 5HA
Fax: 0115 9574450



Further information

There is now a new website bringing together services for ex-military personnel which may be accessed at http://www.veterans-uk.info/

Service Pensions & Veterans Agency (SPVA)

Contact details for the Armed Forces Networks can be found at: http://www.armedforceshealthpartnership.org.uk/ under “links”

 


National Veterans Mental Health Network

In 2010, the Coalition Government commissioned Dr Andrew Murrison MP to produce a report on how the mental health needs of Armed Forces personnel and veterans could be improved.

The report, Fighting Fit: A mental health plan for servicemen and veterans was published in August 2010 and made recommendations based on the following general principles:

  • Established models of care should be used in designing the programme.
  • Any provider that can deliver against National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidelines and Care Quality Commission (CQC) standards should be considered in accordance with the precepts of The Big Society.
  • Follow-up and management should be as close to home as possible.
  • Stigma deters Servicemen from engaging with conventional mental health provision.

The report contained 13 action points, of which four were classed as principal recommendations:

  • Incorporation of a structured mental health systems enquiry into existing medical examinations performed whilst in service;
  • An uplift in the number of mental health professionals (30 in total) conducting veterans’ outreach work from mental health trusts in partnership with a leading mental health charity;
  • A Veterans Information Service (VIS) providing mental health information 12 months after a person leaves the Armed Forces; and,
  • The trial, online, of an early intervention service for serving personnel and veterans
    (the “Big White Wall”).

In 2013, a National Veterans’ Mental Health Network was established to deliver the Murrison report’s recommendations and to ensure that organisations work together for the benefit of the veteran, their carers and family. The Network’s aim is to enable mental health professionals across the MOD, NHS and research communities work together to enhance clinical capacity, support the psychological wellbeing plus the successful and sustainable transition of Veterans their carers and families into civilian life. 

Managed from a central “hub” in the South Staffordshire and Shropshire NHS Foundation Trust, each Strategic Health Authority (SHA) has been allocated resources to support the uplift of the number of mental health professionals. Many local initiatives have already evolved to cater for veterans and have developed individual models that are tailored to their local communities.

 

A number of Veterans Mental Health Therapists (mostly mental health nurses, many with military experience) are already in post using a variety of service models including direct service provision, educating fellow mental health professionals, joint working, sign-posting, working in partnership with other agencies such as Combat Stress, or a mixture of these.

The aim of the Network is to bring those areas of good practice together to share, propagate and provide assurance to support the delivery of Veterans’ mental healthcare and inform policy based around a number of guiding principles:

  • Partnership working - recognising the importance of the pathways from military to civilian life, including other areas of the Veterans’ life and not just health or statutory agencies.
  • Improving the quality of care, service interface and ability to navigate services.
  • Consider the future of service provision for Veteran mental healthcare based on proportionate and sustainable solutions which are evidence based, in terms of size and scope of the provision, take account of the potential for delayed presentation and the risk of late onset mental health problems where there is serious physical injury or chronic illness. Services must also align to the new commissioning environment and reform agenda.
  • Insight and foresight will be gained from listening to and working with experts in their field with both academic and lived experience.
Specific objectives of the network include:

a.    Improving the transition of service leavers to NHS care (joint responsibility with MOD).

 

b.    Implementation of mental health services for veterans, their carers and families.

 

c.    Better NHS support to Armed Forces Reservists.

 

d.    Ability of our organisations to influence and develop new and innovative ways of delivering services locally, regionally and nationally. These developments will be seen across the full range of services from improving mental health to general wellbeing to the delivery of specialist / tertiary Services.

 

e.    Ensure the spread of best practice linked to research and evidence based intervention.

 

f.        Produce clinical teams with the right skills to culturally engage with veterans, their carers and families.

Being a veteran opens the door to a range of help and support from the MOD, other government departments and Service charities and support groups. Veterans can access all of these services by calling:

Veterans-UK free helpline: 0800 169 2277,

or,

Combat Stress and Rethink on 0800 138 1619.

Updated February  2013

 

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