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South West military veterans urged to share mental health experiences

Military veterans across the South West are being asked to share their experiences of mental health services to help the NHS uncover and treat problems better.

Issues such as anxiety, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder can be common among ex-forces personnel. But they continue to have a stigma attached, meaning some don’t access the NHS treatment they need in civilian life.

To raise awareness and improve the dedicated care available in the area, NHS England is asking local armed forces veterans and their families to complete an online survey, here.

Dr Jonathan Leach, chair of NHS England’s Armed Forces and their Families Clinical Reference Group, said: "On leaving the armed forces, most people successfully transition back into civilian life. But some individuals can experience very traumatic situations whilst serving in the military before facing the additional challenges of moving back into civilian life, all of which can take a severe toll.

"While mental health awareness is improving, we can do more to identify issues not just with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder but with wider problems linked to anxiety and depression. We are asking for feedback from veterans, their families and NHS specialists so that the right care and support is available early and easily for those who need it."

One of 12 services across the country, the dedicated South West Veterans' Mental Health Service (here) is currently provided by Avon and Wiltshire Partnership NHS Trust but the contract will be up for renewal later this year.

The deadline for responding to the survey is 5pm on 31 March 2016.