Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Mental health helpline for troops

A 24-hour helpline is being launched to help troops who may be suffering mental health problems

A Government-funded helpline to support troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan is being officially launched.

The 24-hour helpline is designed to help troops who may be suffering mental health problems.

The charity Rethink will deliver the service with £200,000 of Government funding for a one-year pilot.

The scheme was announced in October as part of a package of measures aimed at helping troops who may be suffering problems such as post-traumatic stress disorder.

Research suggests one in four of those who fought in Iraq suffered some sort of mental health problem.

Health minister Simon Burns unveiled the free helpline number, 0800 138 1619, which is effective from Friday.

He said the service is part of the Government's "commitment to deliver the best possible health outcomes to veterans".

Families will also be able to call the line to speak to people trained in dealing with ex-service men and women.

Later this year, the scheme, which also involves experts from the charity Combat Stress, will expand to include text and email.

The Department of Health is also working with the Royal College of GPs to help ensure doctors have the right tools to spot symptoms of stress in troops returning home.

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