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New helpline for troops with mental health problems launched

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said it was ‘simply unacceptable’ for soldiers to be left to suffer in silence.

A helpline to give troops suffering from mental health problems round-the-clock support will be launched at midday on Sunday.

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced an extra £20 million in funding to pay for the hotline and other new support services over the next decade.

It follows calls by campaigners, including Lord Dannatt, former head of the British Army, for more help for struggling soldiers.

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Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson

Mr Williamson said it was “simply unacceptable” that troops should suffer in silence.

He told the Mail on Sunday: “It is our duty to ensure we do all we can for our world-class personnel.

“I will be working personally with the service chiefs to make sure there isn’t a single person in the Armed Forces who doesn’t know where to turn in times of trouble.”

Royal Engineer Nathan Hunt, who had served in a desert reconnaissance unit with Prince Harry in Afghanistan, where he won a gallantry award, suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and hanged himself on New Year’s Day.

His mother Maria Hunt, 64, told the newspaper she was “thrilled to bits” that the helpline was being set up.

“I am so glad that something good has come out of Nathan’s death,” she added.

Widow Lainey, 41, said: “This is brilliant news. Soldiers need someone to talk to. A lot of lads are put off talking to doctors and counsellors face-to-face, so the helpline will be very useful.”

The helpline will be funded by the Ministry of Defence and run with the charity Combat Stress.

Lord Dannatt said the new helpline was a “massive improvement” in support for troops.

The Military Mental Health Helpline can be called on 0800 323 4444.

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