Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust has launched an ambitious new High Intensity Service (HIS) for all ex-British Armed Forces personnel in need of urgent mental health care and treatment living in London.

 This new veteran mental health service will be integrated within, and build on the success of, the established London and South East NHS Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and the Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS). 

 The service will work intensively alongside existing NHS crisis and in-patient services, providing immediate wrap-around care which addresses the psychological and social issues that contribute to pushing people into crisis.

The HIS will co-ordinate care across providers, securing relevant longer-term support and treatment, and preventing people ‘falling through the gaps’ of multiple services. The HIS will work intensively with veterans for between three and six months until they are back on their feet.

The HIS, commissioned by NHS England, will respond quickly to referral via the TILS (within six working hours), assessing the veteran within 72 working hours, and tailoring support to their needs, including providing a personalised crisis plan for them and their supporters.

Initial veteran-sensitive interventions will include support around coping with strong emotions, tackling unwanted alcohol and substance use, and using techniques to manage symptoms of various mental health conditions. 

The HIS is a collaboration with Walking With The Wounded, STOLL and The Ripple Pond, three veteran and Forces family-focused charities. 

The Ripple Pond Director, Rodger Cartwright, said: ‘HIS is an important addition in how this nation cares for its veteran community. The Ripple Pond is proud to be part of this much needed veteran mental health service, providing peer-led one-to-one and group support to many of the families involved.

 ‘Our mission as a charity is to deliver effective peer-led services to carers who are supporting loved ones who have been injured physically or psychologically or have an illness connected with their service in the UK Armed Forces. The carers we support include spouses, partners, parents, grandparents, children, and other family members from both the serving and veteran communities’.

 Importantly, the High Intensity Service adds value to the already existing NHS Veterans Mental Health services. Partnering with the NHS is fundamental in creating a tailored community support service model which is championed by WWTW. This is a fantastic initiative which will make a significant difference to those that served.”

Partner agency staff and peers will use their experience and knowledge to support veterans in securing stable housing, maximizing their income, seeking work or training opportunities, improving physical health difficulties, reducing social isolation and maintaining relationships. This includes information and one-to- one help for partners, family members or carers. 

 The High Intensity Service is underpinned by the knowledge of Lived Experience Experts – other veterans and their friends and families – who bring their understanding of what it’s like to need urgent care, to contribute to HIS support. All HIS staff are trained in veteran-sensitive practice, and the team’s peer support workers are ex-Forces.  

Veterans and their families can self-refer or be referred via their GP, hospital doctor or other professional.