New mental health scheme 'vital' for Forces families
War veterans whose profound suffering is often concealed from view are to be offered help in recovering from the trauma of front line duty.
Hidden Wounds aims to make early intervention a priority for service personal suffering from stress anxiety or depression before it explodes into full mental health problems.
The programme will draw on expertise from Exeter University and has been funded with £4.8 million from Help for Heroes and £2.7 million from the Armed Forces Compensation Fund.
As well as helping veterans themselves, the scheme will give support to their families.
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Ali Richmond, whose husband was wounded on duty, said it would be a godsend.
"Anyone who is part of the Forces family has a set of stresses that are unique," she said.
"You might be living with the constant stress that your husband is fighting or you might be living with someone who has been affected mentally or physically due to their service.
"As the wife of someone who was wounded I know that service affects the whole family, whether it is worrying if they will be alright or if it is worrying about how you and your children are coping.
"This new service will provide somewhere to turn and a vital lifeline for the families of those who serve and those who have served."
Hidden Wounds psychological support programme provides a crucial enhancement to treatment already available.
It will help identify and treat symptoms such as stress, depression and anxiety before they develop into more serious mental health conditions.
Help for Heroes is working with Exeter University Clinical Education Development and Research Centre to develop specific treatment plans for the forces which will be used at Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds centres.
The project will not address fully-developed illnesses such as post-traumatic stress disorder, but aim to catch problems at an early stage before they become more serious.
Bryn Parry, co-founder and chief executive of Help for Heroes said it would help thousands of servicemen and women.
"Many of us can only try to imagine the considerable mental strain that members of the Armed Forces face, often for months at a time while abroad on operations," he said.
"It can take real courage to access support for mental injuries and the Help for Heroes Hidden Wounds programme is designed to offer easily accessible and friendly support which prevents a spiral of decline.
"Those who have remained at home while their loved one is serving face similar challenges and this new service will offer them access to specialist support they so desperately need."