Off By Ed Hanna

Specialist care and support for Service-leavers, Reservists, Veterans and their families.

The first call for help takes courage.
If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, expert help is available from Op Courage: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service.

It doesn’t matter if you’re due to leave the Armed Forces, worked as a Reservist, are a current Service-leaver or left many years ago, this specialist NHS service is here to help and understands the courage it takes to speak with someone.

Royal Air Force Veteran and Op COURAGE mental health nurse and team manager in the East Midlands service, Eleanor Duke, shares her specialist experience and describes what happens when a Veteran gets in contact or is referred.

“I joined the RAF in 2010 as a newly qualified mental health nurse and worked predominately within the Department of Community Mental Health. As part of my role, I could fly anywhere in the world to provide care and support to a Military person who had been identified as struggling with their mental health.  

I greatly enjoyed my time in the RAF and after I left, I missed working with Military personnel – and the banter. I was therefore excited when the opportunity arose to manage a new NHS service that provides intense support to Veterans in a mental health crisis. 

I work in the high intensity and urgent care part of the Op COURAGE service in the East Midlands. 

If a Veteran requires urgent care and support, I will speak with them within 24 hours (Monday-Friday) to introduce myself and explain our service. The next step is to arrange a face-to-face assessment, at a date, time and location which suits their needs. I will also ensure, where appropriate, that they have our office phone number, the 24-hour emotional support line number and local crisis team number.

During the assessment, the Veteran will be asked about their career and experiences in a way that is considerate of and sensitive to their time in the Armed Forces. We will also talk about their past life experiences, what their current situation is and how they are feeling. We can also go for a walk if they do not feel comfortable sitting down in a confined space.

Each Veteran is different and so we work as flexibly as possible to support their individual needs. Our team will use their professional knowledge and skills to develop a personalised care plan with the Veteran. We will also offer regular appointments until they are feeling stable in their mental health, supported and able to access longer term mental health care and support services. The team also supports Veterans’ carers as we know the impact it can have on them as well.

We’ve had lots of positive feedback from Veterans who’ve used the service and I encourage anyone who is struggling with their mental health to get in touch – we are here for you.”

Op COURAGE is available across England. 
For more information, visit the NHS website at: www.nhs.uk/opcourage

Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service is the new overarching name for the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS). This new name was developed by the Armed Forces community to make it easier for those leaving the Military and Veterans to find help. The services themselves have not changed.