Shailesh Vara questions Government on armed forces mental health provision

23rd October 2017

Shailesh Vara welcomes improvements in mental health support for armed forces personnel and highlights that the vast majority of veterans leave the armed forces do so all the better for having served.

12. What plans he has to improve mental health support for armed forces personnel. [901311]

We must recognise that historically mental health has not received the same attention as physical wellbeing. I am therefore pleased that in July we published our new mental health and wellbeing strategy, which comprehensively addresses this. I hope that that will lead to a cultural change in challenging the stigma and improving the mental fitness of our armed forces personnel and, indeed, their families.

I am grateful to the Minister for those comments. Does he agree that it is important not only that we provide better treatment for our veterans, but that the public appreciate that the vast majority of veterans who leave the armed forces do so all the better for having served, rather than as damaged individuals?

My hon. Friend makes such an important point. I think that the whole House respects and reveres our armed forces, but we need to bury the myth that someone who joins the armed forces is more likely to have mental health problems, more likely to have post-traumatic stress disorder and more likely to commit suicide than the general population. That is absolutely not the case. We have 2.5 million veterans in this country, and 15,000 leave every single year. Of those, 90% get into jobs or education within six months. Of course some of them, through no fault of their own, require support, and we need to make sure that we provide it.

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