Support for Professionals

Whilst post traumatic stress disorder is probably the best known veterans’ mental health disorder, research has confirmed that depression, personality disorder and alcohol-related issues equally impact on military veterans.  An individual’s housing and employment situation will also have an affect on their mental health.  These problems in themselves are not unique but what often separates military veterans from the rest of the population is the context through which some of these issues have developed. This sometimes manifests in poor engagement in services, increased irritability and a prolonging of symptoms.

The Avon & Wiltshire Partnership NHS Trust has been chosen to host a service to improve the mental health care of veterans in the NHS across the whole of the South West region. This service was originally launched in October 2011 but we have recently put some improvements to the service in place.

The service follows a ‘Hub and Spoke’ model, the ‘Hub’ being the main base in Blackberry Hill hospital, Bristol. There is a Veterans Therapist based in Devon as one of the ‘spokes’ and there are plans to have another ‘spoke’ in Wiltshire. Some early studies have shown that veterans settling in the South West region seem to be concentrated near the large bases in South Devon and South Wiltshire, as one would expect, but also in Bristol and Swindon.

The South West Veterans Mental Health Service does not have the capacity to take on all veterans for treatment. The service will provide:

  • Specialist assessment
  • Consultation and liaison
  • Support and supervision
  • Training and awareness raising (for mental health staff, GPs, non-health staff and others).
  • Develop a network of Veterans Champions across the region. Clinicians embedded in clinical services who can be a link for the service, to be offered greater support by the service and be informed of any developments.
  • An overview of, and links with, all non-statutory services such as Combat Stress, SSAFA, Royal British Legion.
  • Psychological therapy – treating those veterans for whom there doesn’t appear to be timely or sufficiently trained/experienced clinicians in their local area.

The service can be accessed directly:

We will normally follow up your query or referral within 2 working days, with the aim of completing a first assessment within 4 weeks after that.  Alternatively you may wish to refer to our ‘Useful Links’ page, where you will be able to search for services in your area.

The idea of the Military Covenant is that those who have served for at least one day in HM UK Armed Forces (or Allied Forces during specific time periods) should not be disadvantaged by having volunteered to have served their country.  It should be noted that to be termed a veteran, the individual involved does not have to have served in a combat zone.  We do not restrict access to the Service to those who have been involved in particular war zones over or since particular times.  All are welcome.

If you would like to receive further advice and/or face-to-face training on veterans’ mental health matters in your area, then please do not hesitate to call or email us, again via the Contact page.


NHS England has also developed a training package for those who work with veterans:

“In order to improve the knowledge, understanding and potential differences, Health Education England, with support from NHS England, has developed an e-learning programme for clinical staff.

Written by experts in their field who are either clinicians, or who have a detailed understanding of the issues, the e-learning packages are designed to address and highlight both the similarities and differences between members of the armed forces community and their civilian counterparts.

The free programme includes six sessions, which cover current serving personnel, the families of serving personnel and veterans.

It is accredited for continuing professional development and all health and social care staff who are likely to see members of the Armed Forces Community are encouraged to complete it.”