Only 7.3% of our Veterans are referred to us by clinical practitioners including GPs, mental health and social services.
Most come to us by self referral (57%), while 9% are referred through their family and friends. Another 9.5% are sent to us by the War Pensions Agency and other Service charities and regimental associations; and the remaining 17.2% come from a variety of other sources.
We are not sure why this is. We know that there are issues of stigma associated with Veterans asking for help. Many Veterans would never admit they have a mental health problem to a medical practitioner who has not served in the military. This means that, unless they ask a direct question, medical practitioners find it difficult to identify who is a Veteran and what his or her needs might be. Equally it might mean that even when a GP identifies Veterans with mental health disorders, they are not aware of Combat Stress as a clinical service that can help. To help resolve these issues we have been involved in setting up education and guidance for GPs about Veterans and their needs.
For many Veterans who seek help from Combat Stress, a GP has very often been their first port of call. Some Veterans tell us that they have had negative experiences with accessing NHS services, or that civilian organisations do not understand the unique nature of their traumatic experiences. But we are also aware that this, is where Combat Stress can help.
Download our leaflet: A guide for GPs: Referring veterans with mental health problems.
Please contact us if you would like further information about Veteran mental health, or would like to receive marketing materials for display in your practice.