The NHS has rolled out an expanded mental health support service for Armed Forces veterans, as a survey found that more than half find it difficult to speak up about mental health issues.

The health service this month launched a new campaign to highlight its Op COURAGE service, which now includes enhanced specialist support for addictions.

Latest available data shows that from April-November 2023, more than 4,500 referrals were made to the NHS service which provides specialist care, support and treatment to former Armed Forces personnel, reservists, and service leavers with mental health and wellbeing issues.

More than 30,000 referrals have been made to the veterans’ mental health and wellbeing ‘lifeline’ service since it was first launched by the NHS in 2017.

There are about 2.4 million veterans living in the UK.

A new survey of over 3,000 veterans and serving personal, carried out by NHS England, found that the majority (around 60%), of those who took part, said they found it difficult to ask for help for mental health issues.

For those who sought help from Op COURAGE, self-referral was the top method (around 44%).

More than half of respondents (52%) said they currently had, or had previously had, a mental health problem and 54% said they had a physical health problem now or had previously had one.

As a result, NHS England redesigned the service, with a focus on boosting self-referrals, as well as the addition of enhanced addiction support, and today kicked off an awareness campaign highlighting the service which supports veterans, reservists, and service leavers.

Support for veterans, reservists, and service leavers through OP COURAGE is provided by trained professionals from the Armed Forces community or with extensive experience of working with the military.

Details on Op COURAGE and other support services for veterans can be found in the 'support in your area' section of this website.