Combat Stress reacted and adapted quickly to the COVID-19 pandemic, rapidly moving to deliver our specialist treatment online and by phone whilst also adjusting our fundraising efforts to encompass virtual events and challenges to ensure the charity continued to receive vital funds. PTSD and other complex mental health conditions don’t stop and neither have we.
In the last year almost 14,000 veterans benefited from our help; 8,877 veterans called our Helpline, 3,614 accessed our newly developed online self-help resources and 1,334 veterans received direct support from our specialist staff.
Our digital treatment and support platform allowed more veterans to access our charity’s crucial support, particularly whilst COVID-19 safety measures continue to be in place.
The platform includes self-help psycho-education materials aimed at keeping veterans in good mental and physical shape. These materials are evidence-based and of high clinical quality. Veterans can watch our clinicians talk about mental health difficulties that might affect them and read information about what to do to help themselves. There is also help and advice for veterans’ families, employers and other organisations who support veterans.
The materials enable veterans to start to understand their difficulties even before contacting us for help and can continue to be used during treatment and afterwards. Veterans whose level of need is not suited to our clinical service will also benefit from accessing these materials.
Development of our online services has been well received by veterans: our National Veterans Voice group and our research with veterans tell us that online therapy is a good way of increasing access to therapy and services. Some veterans find it easier to engage with online therapy rather than in-person therapy.
During the year, our expert clinicians further developed and implemented our updated treatment programmes. These are designed to meet the specific needs of veterans with the complex mental health needs that have arisen because of traumatic experiences whilst serving in the military.
We have continued to collaborate with the NHS which is increasingly moving to better serve veterans and their families as part of mainstream mental health services. Working in partnership, we have begun to deliver parts of Op COURAGE – their veterans’ mental health service in England. We remain part-funded by the NHS to deliver our intensive treatment in Scotland, as well as providing services to Welsh veterans from our central England hub. In Northern Ireland we are working closely with the NHS as part of the Regional Trauma Network.
We now look forward to welcoming veterans back to our treatment centres, when safe to do so, for in-person treatment.