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New Military Mental Health Helpline Launched

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A helpline to give forces personnel suffering from mental health problems round-the-clock support has been launched.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced an extra £20 million in funding to pay for the hotline and other new support services over the next decade.

It follows calls by campaigners, including Lord Dannatt, former head of the British Army, for more help for struggling soldiers.

Mr Williamson said the troops should be supported in their times of need, and that he would be personally working to ensure they know where to turn.

He said: "Every hour of every day our safety, security and way of life are protected by our courageous Armed Forces personnel.

"They are always there for us - often risking life and limb and making huge personal sacrifices - and we must be there for them in their own time of need.

"Mental illnesses caused by life on the battlefield can have a devastating impact on our brave heroes and their families.

"It is our moral and professional duty to ensure that we do all we can for our world-class troops.

"I will personally be working with all the service chiefs to make sure there isn't a single person in the forces who doesn't know where to turn in times of trouble".

Surgeon General of the British Armed Forces Major General Martin Bricknell said: "This number will complement the range of mental health services, including our Departments of Community Mental Health, which we provide for our serving personnel.

"It is important to deliver a holistic service to ensure our Armed Forces have every opportunity to access the help and care they need and deserve.

"We must do all we can to provide easy access to the support available."

The helpline will be funded by the Ministry of Defence and run with the charity Combat Stress.

Lord Dannatt said the new helpline was a "massive improvement" in support for troops.

The Military Mental Health Helpline can be called on 0800 323 4444.

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