A groundbreaking partnership has been formed at Colchester Garrison between the military, the NHS and the Combat Stress charity to meet the needs of veterans with mental health problems.
Colchester Garrison’s Department of Community Mental Health (DCMH), North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Combat Stress have come together to form the North Essex Veterans Mental Health Network, the first of its kind in the country.
The partnership, which works under the slogan ‘A United Approach’, held a conference at the Weston Homes Community Stadium in Colchester on Tuesday 18 October 2011 to explore the services already available for veterans locally and improve links between organisations working in the field.
The network is the idea of Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Mike Srinivasan, consultant psychiatrist at DCMH Colchester, and grew out of work by DCMH staff to help a veteran who was leaving the Army but needed continuing mental healthcare.
The three partners came together with the help of Enable East, an NHS team with specialist skills and expertise that supports the delivery of public sector projects. A bid to the Department of Health secured £130,000 funding from a budget set up to improve services following the 2010 report into military mental healthcare by Dr Andrew Murrison MP.
Lt Col (Retd) Srinivasan said:
This is a great opportunity for the three main organisations that are responsible for the mental healthcare of our military personnel, who later become veterans, to share ideas and work together to create care pathways.
This will enable our veterans, who have given so much of themselves for our freedom and protection, to get the best assessment and treatment possible in a seamless manner. It is our joint way of saying thank you for what you have given us.
Andrew Geldard, Chief Executive of the North Essex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said:
This is a new way of working between organisations with different expertises, and will help veterans find the healthcare they need. You can’t just put up a sign that says ‘Over here please’; you have to reach people where they are and as they are, and that’s what this will do.
Combat Stress spokesman Neil Cox said:
Combat Stress is the UK’s leading charity that specialises in the mental health of veterans and we are delighted to be involved with the North Essex Veterans Mental Health Network. Combat Stress supports over 4,600 veterans of all ages around the UK, including 119 veterans across Essex. We are looking forward to being able to support even more of Essex’s veterans through the Network.