Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service

Recent events in Afghanistan are impacting many people, including the Armed Forces community.  Here to support is Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, which provides specialist care and support for Service-leavers, reservists, veterans and their families. 

It doesn’t matter if someone is due to leave the Armed Forces, just left the Armed Forces or left many years ago, the service is here to help.

Op COURAGE has experts who:

  • understand the Armed Forces and military life
  • are either from the Armed Forces community or highly experienced in working with serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families
  • work with individuals to make sure they get the right type of specialist care, support and treatment.

Individuals can self refer or ask someone to do this on their behalf as detailed below.  Please note that for some regions, crisis care provision is via a separate number.

North of England: Call 0800 652 2867 or email VTILS@cntw.nhs.uk (crisis care referral via 0800 183 1485)

The service offers a range of treatment, which includes:

  • working with Defence Medical Services to provide mental health care and support for those leaving the military
  • recognising the early signs of mental health problems and providing care and treatment for this
  • therapeutic treatment for more advanced mental health conditions and psychological trauma
  • intensive emergency care and treatment for those in a crisis
  • supporting access to other NHS services if needed, such as psychological therapies (IAPT) and eating disorder services
  • working with charities and local organisations to support wider health and wellbeing needs, such as housing, relationships, finances, employment, drug and alcohol misuse and social support

Op COURAGE: The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service is the new name for the Veterans’ Mental Health Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), Veterans’ Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) and Veterans’ Mental Health High Intensity Service (HIS). The new name has been developed following feedback from veterans and their families to make it easier for those leaving the military and veterans to find help.

For more information, visit nhs.uk/opcourage

Top tips for ambulance clinicians

  1. When treating someone, ask them if they have ever served in the Armed Forces. If they are a veteran, this should be recorded, with their permission, in their clinical record (‘Military Veteran’).  Sometimes, there might be clues in a person’s home, such as photographs or military associated clothing or memorabilia.
  2. Finding out if someone is a veteran, can help with a more accurate diagnosis and mean an individual can be referred to specialist veterans mental or physical health services, such as Op COURAGE or the Veterans Trauma Network. Individuals can also self refer to these services and do not need a GP referral.
  3. Although most veterans are happy to disclose that they have served, a few may prefer to keep this private due to confidentiality agreements that they have signed. Sometimes it can be helpful to explain that all healthcare professionals have a duty of confidentiality.
  4. When handing over care of a veteran to an NHS service, make sure you let the receiving party know, as they may be entitled to priority treatment if their condition is attributable to their time in service.
  5. The families of unwell veterans may be suffering too, so please ask what services they might need.
  6. For more information and contact details, visit https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/armed-forces-community/veterans-service-leavers-non-mobilised-reservists/