Dedicated mental health crisis support for veterans

9th November 2021

Local MP and former army officer Tobias Ellwood is urging armed forces veterans to seek help if they are struggling with their mental health.

Ahead of Remembrance Day (11 November), Dorset HealthCare is promoting the quick, dedicated help and support available from the newly-launched South West Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS).

This is part of Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, which brings together specialist NHS mental health services to support former military personnel and their families across the country.

People due to leave the armed forces, who have just left or who finished serving years ago can all access help. They will speak to people who understand military life, who are either from the armed forces community or are highly experienced in working with serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families. These staff will ensure the right type of specialist care, support and treatment is provided.

Andy Gritt, Clinical and Operations Manager for the South West Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service, said:

“While Remembrance Day is the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that marked the end of the First World War in 1918, it’s also an opportunity for the whole nation to acknowledge the courage and sacrifice of all those who have served for our country.

“And for those veterans who have defended our freedoms and protected our way of life over the decades, we want to assure you that expert help is available from our High Intensity Service – whenever and wherever you served.

“If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, we are here to help. The service to here to support veterans, provide stability and help them to access other services, as well as provide support to their family and loved ones.”

Veterans in a crisis can refer themselves to the HIS by calling NHS111 or be referred by a healthcare professional, such as a GP. 

Tobias Ellwood, MP for Bournemouth East and a former captain in the British Army, said:

“I am proud to see the south west of England being able to offer this new service. This marks significant process in terms of mental health service provision for veterans, focusing on individual care when it is most needed.”

Dorset HealthCare was recently named a ‘Veteran Aware Trust’ by the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VC HA), acknowledging its commitment to improving NHS care for veterans, reservists, active members of the armed forces and their families.

For more information about the South West HIS and other services part of Op COURAGE, visit

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