LONDON, April 2, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- Veterans' charity Combat Stress has today welcomed the announcement by the Health Minister Mike O'Brien of GBP2m of new funding to help improve access to mental health services for former Service men and women.

Welcoming the announcement, Dr Chai Patel, Chairman of the Combat Stress 'The Enemy Within Appeal', a GBP30m fundraising campaign, said:

On behalf of those Veterans currently accessing Combat Stress services, as well as everyone who is supporting The Enemy Within Appeal, I would like to say how grateful we are for today's announcement.

This additional funding will make a tangible difference right now to the growing number of Veterans who are in need of mental health services. It chimes greatly with the aims of The Enemy Within Appeal, which I hope will continue to be supported by the public and politicians alike in order to ensure we meet the projected future demand for high quality mental health services for our Veterans.

Combat Stress Chief Executive David Hill said:

We know from over 90 years' experience that Veterans want to be treated alongside their peers and by organisations that understand Service-related psychological injury. Equally we know that partnership between Government and military charities is vital to ensure that Veterans can access services effectively and engage with the treatment provided.

Today's announcement is a very welcome further step to ensuring that Veterans have improved access to a choice of appropriate services, with the long term aim of reducing the average 14 year timelag that it takes for Veterans to seek help for psychological illness after leaving the Armed Forces.

Today's announcement follows the launch by the Prince of Wales on 11th March 2010 of The Enemy Within Appeal. Over the last 5 years the number of new Veterans seeking our help has risen by 66%. And still, on average, Veterans wait 14 years before seeking the help of Combat Stress. The Appeal aims to:

- Raise GBP30m to enhance and develop mental health services to Veterans - Raise awareness of the plight of Veterans suffering from psychological injury - Encourage Veterans and their families to seek help earlier

Through this Appeal we will deliver the right care, in the right place at the right time.

Notes for Editors

The GBP2 million announced by Health Minister Mike O'Brien on 2nd April will fund:

- Up to 15 Community Psychiatric Nurses (or Veterans Therapists) to work in Mental Health Trusts alongside specialist Combat Stress teams to forge better links between the two and enabling more Veterans to be treated closer to their homes and families; - Combat Stress to join forces with The Mental Health Helplines Partnership - so that their helpline can be accessed 24 hours a day by Veterans needing advice and support; - Improved education and training for GPs to help them identify Veterans suffering from mental health problems, providing them with the information and skills to ensure that Veterans get the best possible treatment; and - Joint work between the Department of Health, Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion to ensure Veterans themselves are aware of the range of support available to them, building upon existing efforts to promote services available from the NHS, Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion. About Combat Stress: 1. Combat Stress is the UK's leading military charity specialising in the care of Veterans' mental health. Many of the conditions we treat are chronic and long term in nature. 2. We celebrated our 90th anniversary on 12 May 2009 - and have provided a vital lifeline to almost 100,000 ex-Service men and women from every campaign that British Forces have been involved in since the First World War. 3. We have a current caseload of 4,375 Veterans. This includes 94 who have served in Afghanistan and 390 who served in Iraq. The youngest Veteran on our books is 20 and our oldest is 103. 4. The majority are ex-Army: 81.9% 5. On average, it takes over 14 years from Service discharge for Veterans to make the first-step approach to Combat Stress for help, by which time their condition is often chronic. In 2009, six of our new Veterans had waited 50 years or more. 6. Other and co-existing mental health conditions include: depression, alcohol and/or drug abuse, mood disorders, anxiety and phobic disorders. 7. We provide a tailored treatment and care programme, based on the psychological, social and welfare needs of the individual. Our bespoke treatment plans range from brief therapy to chronic disease management. 8. Clinical treatment is delivered at our three short-stay centres in Shropshire, Surrey and Ayrshire. They provide a range of therapies within a unique, peer-group setting which provides a safe and familiar environment for Veterans. 9. The MOD and Department of Health are working increasingly closely with Combat Stress to ensure better treatment of Veterans with psychological injuries. On 11 January 2010 Combat Stress signed a partnership agreement with the MoD and the Department of Health, resulting in an overarching investment of GBP350,000.This will help fund Combat Stress staff to work directly with NHS mental health Trusts to ensure that the services they provide are accessible to and appropriate for military Veterans.

SOURCE: Combat Stress

CONTACT: For All Media Enquires Call Combat Stress Media Team,+44(0)800-098-8821,