Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service provides specialist care and support for those due to leave the armed forces, reservists and those who’ve already left.
Developed by veterans, for veterans, Op COURAGE is available across England and since 2017, has helped nearly 30,000 people.
Op COURAGE offers a range of specialist support and treatment, tailored to your specific needs. This includes
- helping to recognise and treat early signs of mental health problems, as well as more advanced mental health conditions and psychological trauma
- providing support and treatment for co-occurring mental health and substance use
- liaising with charities and local organisations to support wider health and wellbeing, such as help with housing, relationships, finances and employment
- referring to other NHS services, where needed
- recognising that family may also need help and care and supporting them to access this.
Op COURAGE is an NHS service supported by trained professionals who are from or have experience of working with the Armed Forces community. We know that some people find life difficult after leaving the military and we’re here to help. Working together with Armed Forces charities, we’ll help you get the right type of specialist care, support and treatment for your specific needs.
We (Pennine Care) host the Op COURAGE service across the Northwest of England, combining our practitioners with others from Leeds & York NHS FT, Walking With The Wounded and Combat Stress.
If you’re experiencing mental health problems and due to leave the Armed Forces, a reservist or already left the military, Op Courage can help. It doesn’t matter how long you served for or when you left the Armed Forces, we’re here for you.
To get help from this service you must:
- be a resident in England and have served in the UK Armed Forces for at least a full day
- be registered with a GP practice in England or be willing and eligible to register with a GP
- provide your military service number or another form of eligibility.
Call: 0300 373 33 32
(the service is available 8am – 8pm, 7 days a week)
Whether you’re due to leave the Armed Forces, a reservist or already left the military, you can contact Op Courage to book an appointment. You don’t have to go through your GP to access Op Courage, however, if you’d like them or someone else to refer you, you can ask them to do this.
It doesn’t matter how long you served for or when you left the Armed Forces, Op Courage is here to help.
If you're approaching discharge you can also get treatment and support. If you're experiencing mental health difficulties, these services can provide a range of treatment and support in close liaison with Defence Medical Services (DMS).
This includes recognising the early signs of mental health problems and providing access to early treatment and support, as well as therapeutic treatment for complex mental health difficulties and psychological trauma. You can also be provided with help, where appropriate, with employment, reduction in alcohol consumption, housing and social support.
To access these services while you are still in the armed forces, you must:
- be a resident in England
- have an identified or diagnosed mental health illness / disorder; AND
- have a discharge date from the Ministry of Defence (MOD), or be found to be unfit for continued military service by the medical board; OR
- have been identified by the departments of community mental health as requiring follow on psychiatric care on discharge from the MOD; OR
- have had your pre-release medical and been identified by their DMS GP as requiring mental health transition support; OR
- have had a pre-release medical before you self-refer.
Upon referral, you will be offered an initial assessment within two weeks and, where appropriate, a first clinical appointment two weeks after.
These appointments are available via phone, video/online, or face to face.
Do you need help?
To find out more, speak to your Defence Medical Services (DMS) GP or contact your local service:
North west of England:
There's also a single point of contact for the whole north of England:
- Call: 0300 373 33 32
- Email: OpCOURAGENORTH@cntw.nhs.uk
Visit the Veteran and Armed forces pages of the NHS website for more information.
Combat Stress, the leading veterans’ mental health charity
Helpline for veterans, serving personnel, and their families. If you’re currently serving, or have served in the UK Armed Forces, Combat Stress provide a 24-hour helpline which you can call for emotional support and advice: 0800 138 1619
This is not a crisis service. If you call and you are in crisis, Combat Stress will direct you to someone who can help, like the Samaritans or the A&E department at your local hospital.
MOD Military Mental Health Helpline
A 24-hour helpline service for serving troops and their families. This helpline is operated by Combat Stress. 0800 323 4444
Royal British Legion (RBL)
The Royal British Legion helps members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, veterans and their families. Support starts after one day of service and continues through life, long after service is over for dependents and carers too. Contact the helpline team on 0808 802 8080.
The Samaritans are available around the clock – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. No matter what you’re going through, you can call. You don’t have to be suicidal. Call 116 123 for free, any time, on any phone
SSAFA – The Armed Forces Charity
SSAFA provides practical, emotional and financial support for those who serve or have served. 020 7403 8783
Togetherall is a safe, online community where people support each other anonymously to improve mental health and wellbeing. All armed forces personnel, veterans and their families (16+) also have free access: https://togetherall.com/en-gb/
Op Restore: The Veterans Physical Health and Wellbeing Service
Op RESTORE is the new name for the Veterans Trauma Network. It is a service for anyone who has served at least one day in the UK Armed Forces and, as a result of your service, acquired a significant, lasting physical illness or injury.
Ask your GP to make a referral and for more information visit: www.nhs.uk/armedforceshealth
The MOD’s Veterans UK helpline can provide support with many issues including benefits, housing and welfare. Normal opening hours are 8am-5pm, Monday to Friday. 0808 191 4218
The Veterans’ Gateway is a quick and easy first point of contact for whatever support you need. It’s available 24/7 and can signpost you to relevant services.
Many of the team are veterans themselves so understand the issues people face after leaving the armed forces. 0808 802 1212 www.veteransgateway.org.uk
Walking with the Wounded
Walking with the wounded (WWTW) delivers employment, mental health, care coordination and volunteering programmes in collaboration with the NHS. Our purposes is to get those who served, and their families, whether mentally, socially or physically wounded, back on their feet and making a positive contribution once more. 01263 863 900
Manchester and Lancashire based veteran support
For more information about other support in Manchester or Lancashire, please click the partnership working tab on our landing page.
We have set up another page with frequently asked questions (FAQs) about our services, including:
- Can I get priority treatment?
- Can you give me a diagnosis?
- Can you provide financial help?
- Can I bring someone to my appointment?
- Suspected war crimes?
- Will you prescribe medication?
- Can I take part in research?
Image: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2019