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Call to Mind report – A UK Wide review: Common issues in meeting the mental and related health needs of veterans and their families

A new report providing the first UK-wide summary of the mental and related health and social care needs of veterans and their family members and provision of support services, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), was released today, 5th July 2017.

The report, entitled Call to Mind: United Kingdom – Common Themes and Findings from the Reviews of Veterans’ and their Families’ Mental and Related Health Needs in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, was presented to the Ministry of Defence and Department of Health UK Partnership Board to formally launch this final summary. It draws together the key issues and findings from the series of four Call to Mind reports for England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland, all of which were completed between 2015 and 2017.

The UK report highlights common issues including gaps in service provision and areas of good practice in meeting the mental and related health needs of veterans and their family members across each UK nation. The report identifies four areas where improvements could be made: strategy, planning and assessment; care pathways and service responses; meeting specific mental and related health and social care needs; and the needs of veterans’ families.

Although there are strong commitments to the Armed Forces Covenant in each of the devolved nations, the report identifies that there are variances and important gaps in national and local strategy and planning for meeting mental and related health and social care needs.  Even where there is a strong national strategic focus on meeting these needs, this is often not evidenced in local area strategy and planning documentation.  In particular, there is a lack of robust population based assessments of health and social care needs that include veterans’ and their family members’ mental and related health care needs. Where these assessments do exist, they are subject to limitations as a result of poor data collection on veterans in general at local levels. Specifically, there are two factors that are especially relevant to the UK as a whole:

  1. Poor identification rates of veterans and their family members in primary care, including inconsistent use of GP recording of veteran status and the incompatibility of systems across nations.
  2. Veterans and family members being reluctant or lacking competence and confidence to be identified as veterans in health services.

The report calls for a stronger focus on the links between national and local strategy and planning in each of the four nations. This should include ensuring an appropriate population based system for identifying these needs and for commissioning plans that are informed by the data that these assessments provide. The report concludes that this is the most effective means by which resources can be appropriately targeted to need in the way that the Armed Forces Covenant intends.

Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of FiMT, says: “Call to Mind: United Kingdom is a body of work aimed at creating, for the first time, a snapshot of the extent to which the mental and related health needs of ex-Service personnel and their families are being assessed and supported by health need assessments (or their equivalents) across all four nations of the United Kingdom. The report crucially identifies that there are variances and important gaps in national and local strategy and planning for meeting the mental and related health and social care needs.  This critical body of research is being presented to the Ministry of Defence and Department of Health to inform the development and delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant UK-wide. These reviews will help inform policy makers and service deliverers across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales to better identify and serve veterans and their families as they make the transition into successful civilian lives.”

Dr Jon Bashford, Senior Partner at Community Innovations Enterprise who led the UK series of reviews, says: “We have been working on the individual nation reports for the UK over the previous two years and this report brings all the key issues and findings from those reports together, to produce the first UK-wide report on meeting the mental and related health needs of veterans and family members. There is a lot of good practice across the UK and some excellent services, but there is still more to be done to ensure that all veterans and their family members who need help and support for mental and related health problems receive timely and effective services. In particular, there is a need for more robust, local area, population based health needs assessments that include veterans and their family members. We also believe that this is essential to ensure an appropriate and well-coordinated national and local strategic planning response to meeting these needs for each of the nations of the UK.”

Read the full report here.

ENDS

Notes to editors 

About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (‘the Fund’), Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations.  FiMT continues the Fund’s long-standing legacy of support for veterans across the UK with an endowment of £35 million awarded in 2012.  http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.

The mission of FiMT is to enable ex-Service personnel and their families make a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life, and it delivers this mission by generating an evidence base that influences and underpins policy making and service delivery.

FiMT awards grants (for both responsive and commissioned work) to support its change model around 6 outcomes in the following areas: Housing; Employment; Health and wellbeing; Finance; Criminal Justice System; and Relationships. All work is published in open access and will be hosted on the Veterans Research Hub at Anglia Ruskin University, which is going live in Summer 2017.  A high standard of reportage is demanded of all grant holders so as to provide a credible evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made.

Useful links

Website: www.fim-trust.org

Reports: www.fim-trust.org/reports/

Who we have helped: www.fim-trust.org/who-we-have-helped/

Twitter: @FiMTrust

About the Mental Health Research Programme: www.fim-trust.org/mental-health/research-programme/