James Heappey MP welcomes mental health funding for troops

Wells MP James Heappey has welcomed the Government’s decision to invest £220 million in mental health services for our Armed Forces and veterans. The measures include the recent launch of a 24/7 Military Mental Health Helpline.

Mr Heappey, who served in The Rifles on two operational tours of duty in Afghanistan as well as operational tours to Iraq and Northern Ireland said that he was pleased to see action now being taken to give our troops and veterans better access to mental healthcare.

Mr Heappey said: “It was striking when we returned from Afghanistan in 2009 that there was such a huge gap between the support received by those with a physical injury and those suffering mental illness. People wanted to talk to the soldiers who had lost limbs but they were much less at ease with those who had suffered mental trauma.

“The Army is much better at recognising the challenges of mental health now than it ever was before but after the brutal challenges of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, there are tens of thousands of current and former soldiers who may need supporting in some way. Our nation’s covenant with our Armed Forces is about much more than celebrating them as returning heroes when they’ve been overseas. We must look after them always.”

Veterans mental health charity Combat Stress has commissioned the hotline service with the money announced by Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson. The hotline has now been operational for over a week and be contacted on 0800 323 4444.