Health and care professionals gather at Royal Armouries to learn about Op COURAGE

Posted: 02/04/24

On Wednesday 13 March health and care staff gathered at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds to learn more about Op COURAGE, the specialist mental health support service for Armed Forces veterans.

The event was hosted by Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), lead provider of the Op COURAGE service for the North of England along with several other NHS Trusts and military charities.

Staff and representatives from military services and charities, housing associations, addictions services, and other mental health and veterans services, were invited to the event to learn about how Op COURAGE could support people they work with.

Op COURAGE is a specialist NHS mental health service which helps armed forces veterans, as well as serving personnel who are due to leave the military soon, reservists, and their families.

The event was attended by Ed Anderson CBE, Lord-Lieutenant of West Yorkshire. Mr Anderson understands the challenges military families face, as his father served in the Royal Engineers. He is involved with several local military charities, including as President of the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association for Yorkshire and Humber, and Patron of the Yorkshire Volunteers Regimental Association.

Speaking as part of the event, Mr Anderson said: “Lord Lieutenants support every part of the Armed Forces family, whether it be those still serving, our reservists, adult volunteers, Cadets, or veterans. I would like to thank the team managers and leadership teams who’ve worked tirelessly on this project. On behalf of all my colleague Lord Lieutenants across the North of England, I can say how proud we are of the great work that has been carried out in creating Op Courage in the North.

“I know that our veterans and their families across the North are able to access the best possible service.”

Op COURAGE helps veterans with things like coping with the transition from military to civilian life, recognising and treating mental health conditions and psychological trauma, and providing support and treatment for substance misuse and addictions. The service can also support veterans to access other services for help with things affecting their wellbeing like housing, relationships, finances, and employment.

Jon Milford, service lead for Op COURAGE North, said: “The Op COURAGE service is unique – our staff are highly trained clinical professionals, and they are also either ex-military or know the military culture first-hand.

“Veterans can often struggle to ask for help for ‘mainstream’ mental health services, but our team have a deeper understanding of what they are going through.

“The people who attended this event gave us very positive feedback, saying the presentations and workshops gave them a really clear understanding of how our service works, and how we collaborate with and complement other organisations. I am also very pleased we were able to share some real-life experiences from people who have used our service, which really helped people to understand the difference our support can make.

“I would really encourage anyone who is struggling to reach out to us for help.”

If you, or someone you know, is an armed forces veteran and struggling with their mental health, expert help is available. Speak to your GP or contact Op Courage, the Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing service, on 0300 373 33 32 or email [email protected].