(Picture: Royal Navy).
The Defence Secretary has announced a new package of measures to boost mental health support for ex-service personnel.
The measures, announced by Penny Mordaunt ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (13-19 May), will place veterans peer to peer support at the heart of the scheme.
Up to £9m funding will be used for veterans' mental health and wellbeing activities. It follows the Government’s allocation of £10m to support veterans' mental health.
Ms Mordaunt also announced that additional measures will be taken to attract and support applications from organisations run by veterans.
"We will provide support so [veteran-led organisations] can access this funding, and help to demonstrate the difference their work is making to the wellbeing of those who have served."
Minister for Defence People and Veterans Tobias Ellwood said he is "proud" of how far the Armed Forces have come when it comes to understanding the value of mental resilience, as well as asking for and providing help.
However, he said, there is still progress to be made to remove the stigma around mental health.
"We still have a long way to go to encourage our people to get talking, share their experiences, and to make sure the support they need is never more than a phone call away."
The Armed Forces will mark Mental Health Awareness Week by hosting a series of events and workshops designed to promote mental resilience and raise awareness of the support provided across the military.
Mental Health Awareness Week is being marked within the Armed Forces with a series of events, including a Mental Health Fair run by the Royal Navy, a taster course of the Army’s Mental Resilience Training at Catterick, and interactive resilience workshops and coffee mornings at the MOD Main Building.
The week will also see the launch of Project REGAIN, a new initiative designed by Royal Marines aimed at promoting early detection of those who could suffer from mental health issues.
REGAIN allows Royal Marines and related ranks to refer themselves directly to specialists without the need to first go through their unit’s medical officer.
The aim is to ensure that getting support is as straightforward as possible.
Those seeking help will only need to make a phone call to a MOD mental health unit in Colchester, who will put them straight through to a nurse who will arrange an appointment locally.
The ongoing trial is supported by £108,000 of funding from the Ministry of Defence and has so far made over 6,000 calls, with over 300 resulting in referrals to support services or additional guidance and advice being provided.