Veterans to benefit from better civilian mental health care

Endeavour Programme draws on best practice

By Ian Birch

A new signposting and training scheme called the Endeavour Programme has been launched to help veterans receive better treatment in civilian life.

Veterans' Parade, LondonNick Wood, a Falklands veteran, at Nick Wood Consulting, has identified, in discussions with civilian healthcare professionals, that as well as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), veterans commonly suffer from depression, raised anxiety, insomnia or bereavement issues.   

According to Wood, there have been positive changes in mental health stigma in the Armed Forces recently – he says historically this has not been the case and personnel generally did not come forward for help for fear of being seen as “the weak link or being branded a ‘jelly neck’ or ‘poor coper’”.    Wood says the “in operational theatre” TRIM initiative is a good example of this change in attitude as it encourages personnel to openly or privately discuss issues they may be struggling to deal with.

There are many factors which have influenced the engagement of veterans into health and mental health services over the years.  Wood gives the example of the 70s and 80s when the main threats were seen as the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the Cold War.  Armed Forces personnel were, he says, not encouraged to wear uniform outside of establishments and were instructed not to discuss or divulge their profession in public unless they were confident they knew the person they were talking to.

Today, the public can see what happens on patrol in Helmand province in Afghanistan and, as Wood points out, see the sacrifice of repatriations at Wootten Bassett live on TV.  They can also see near-live reports from the field being beamed into their living rooms on 24 hour TV news channels.

So what is the Endeavour Programme, and how will it help veterans access a greater range of mental health support and related services in civilian settings such as the NHS?  Well Luciana Rousseau of Rousseau Consulting explained to me:

“The Endeavour Programme delivers veteran awareness and intervention training to community service providers with a focus upon healthcare provisions.  It aims to up-skill service professionals in understanding the challenges facing veteran and recent service leaver groups ... Signposting is a key part of the programme.  It can ensure all delegates are aware of the support for veteran groups who need additional support and/or assessments.  There is a myriad of support out there and the programme helps healthcare professionals access it.”

Rousseau says she and Wood are in discussion with a number of significant NHS Trusts at present to deliver the Endeavour Programme and have been working with service and veteran groups for a number of years.

Wood adds: “It is worth pointing out some studies and reports have highlighted that not all issues are actual PTSD but, until a veteran engages with health care professionals and receives support, they may struggle for a long period of time: sometimes running into years.  The key to successful engagement in identifying the veteran at the earliest opportunity and the assessor knowing how to act on the information and where to access the extensive interventions provided by well-known charities and benevolent organisations”.

For more information about Nick Wood please see his profile on LinkedIn networking site below.

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One of our Mental Healthy bloggers suffers PTSD and has a very informative and moving blog here:

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