Veterans' Mental Health and Wellbeing Service (Op Courage)
If you’re a military veteran, reservist, or a serving personnel member of the armed forces, we can help you access mental health and wellbeing support.
Op Courage, the NHS Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service, is available across the South Central region: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Oxfordshire.
We offer three types of support:
- Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) is the first point of contact for veterans having difficulties with their mental health or emotional wellbeing.
- Complex Treatment Service (CTS) is for more complex mental health difficulties related to your military experiences such as PTSD, anger or depression.
- High Intensity Service (HIS) works alongside other mental health services e.g. inpatient wards to offer joint support veterans who are in, or at risk of, a mental health crisis.
Click through the sections below to find out more about the help available.
Whether you’re currently serving, or you left military service some time ago, sometimes your experiences can affect both your mental health and emotional wellbeing.
These difficulties can include:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Worrying too much
- Low mood
- Trouble sleeping
- Problems with moving on from life in the military
- Controlling anger and frustration
- Alcohol and drug and gambling issues
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
We can help you spot the signs and get you the treatment and support you need.
Watch our short video to know more about how we can help you:
Help for more complex or significant difficulties
If you're experiencing significant difficulties related to your time in the military, you may be more suited to more intensive support from our Veteran’s Mental Health Complex Treatment Service (CTS) team.
We can help with more enduring issues such as: controlling anger; depression; more complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Watch our short video to know more about how we can help you:
What to expect
When you’re referred to us, we’ll arrange an initial assessment with you so that we can get to know you and your situation better.
This could be through a face to face appointment, or online. Our aim is to empower you to move forward with your life and get the support you need.
Depending on your circumstances we may introduce you to other specialist NHS services such as an NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) or to charities including organisations that work specifically with veterans.
If you're seen by our CTS team, we’ll invite you to a care planning appointment. We'll talk to you about your experiences and create your treatment plan with you.
We offer a phased treatment approach which includes group work and individual sessions, in-person, or by video consultation.
We can guide you to local and national organisations who can help you with other areas of your life, like work, housing, personal relationships, overcoming alcohol dependency, and boosting your general wellbeing.
We also encourage family members to be involved in your care, and can help them find support for their needs too.
High Intensity Service (HIS)
Our High Intensity Service works alongside other community and inpatient mental health services.
We help military veterans who are experiencing, or at risk of, a crisis and to their families.
Our team includes both clinicians and trained peer support workers who either have a military background themselves or are highly experienced in supporting veterans.
They can offer veteran-specific knowledge and understanding to help people engage well in mainstream mental health services and access help from other specialist organisations to help their recovery.
This support is offered on a short-term basis and cases are reviewed after 12 weeks.
We provide HIS in partnership with Oxford Heath NHS Foundation Trust and Solent NHS Trust.
Visit the Solent NHS Trust website for more information on HIS (opens new browser tab)
This is not a crisis service service. If you need urgent help for your mental health see our 'Urgent support' drop-down tab below.
We're open to anyone who has served in the armed forces community regardless of length of time served, rank or reason for leaving.
- Former members of the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force
- Reservists who are not currently mobilised
- Those who have served in the Merchant Navy in support of military operations
- Those who have served their National Service
- Former members of the Territorial Army
If you’re an armed forces veteran, you can refer yourself, or ask a family member to refer you to the Op Courage service for South Central, if you:
- Are a resident in England.
- Have served in the UK armed forces for a full day
- Are registered, or willing to be registered, with a GP practice in the South Central region (Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire or the Isle of Wight).
- Are able to provide your military service number or another form of acceptable proof of eligibility.
If you’re currently serving in the armed forces and looking for support, you must be:
- A resident in England
- Have an identified mental health condition
- Have a discharge date from the Ministry of Defence (MoD)
Make a referral
If you meet the criteria for either a veteran or a serving personnel member (see 'Who our service is for' above), you can refer yourself directly.
You can also contact your GP or health professional to refer you.
Call 0300 365 2000 (option 4)
To send us an email referral, download and complete the form below and email it on to us.
Make a referral to the High Intensity Service
If you are health or care professional treating a veteran, we can work with you to give further veteran specific support to help them engage in their treatment and recover well. The are two ways you can refer.
To refer, you can:
Download and complete the referral form and email it to the Veterans' Mental Health High Intensity Service.
Call 023 9438 7924, (seven days a week, 6am – 10pm, excluding bank holidays)
You will need the consent of the person you are referring and their service number before you refer.
This is not a crisis service. If you need urgent help for your mental health see our 'Urgent support' section below.
Get advice about a referral
You can also contact us for advice before making a referral:
Call 0118 214 3262 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri)
We provide treatment and support across the South Central region:
- Hampshire & the Isle of Wight
Depending on your needs, we can offer you a face to face appointment within 25 miles of your home address.
We typically arrange face to face appointments in local GP clinics and community venues such as local health centres or charity offices.
We also work in partnership with Avon and Wiltshire Partnership across the South West, including Wiltshire, Dorset, Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset.
Our team is available for contact between 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
If you contact us outside of these times, we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.
The NHS Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service offers support to Afghans who worked with the British armed forces between October 2001 and August 2021.
Who can access this service?
This service is available for Afghans now living in the UK who worked in Afghanistan:
- Either directly for the British government as Locally Employed Civilians, such as interpreters or embassy staff
- Or in assistance of British operations in the country (for example, through serving in the Afghan National Army).
What help is available
This service provides mental health assessments, advocacy and support. We can help you access:
- Specialist mental health treatment and support if problems are military or conflict attributable
- Treatment and support for other mental and physical health problems
- Help with practical problems such as finances, housing, and employment
What to expect
Referrals for Afghans living across England are managed by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.
Once you complete a referral form (please see below) they will contact you by phone and can provide interpreters, if needed.
They can also arrange face to face or online appointments to discuss your needs in more detail.
After your first meeting, you may be referred to the Op Courage service in your local area, who can help you further.
What happens next?
If you live in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire or the Isle of Wight you will be referred to us so that you can access support nearer to where you are.
We will contact you to arrange a meeting either in-person or virtually, using an online video call. We can arrange for you to have an interpreter if needed.
At the end of your meeting we will make a care plan, including recommendations for treatment and other support.
We may also get additional help from other services, or organisations, for example around your housing, welfare, or social care.
In some instances, you may be referred to other NHS services that will better meet your needs, but this will be discussed and agreed with you first.
How to refer
You can refer yourself or you can ask a health professional to refer you to this service which is managed across England by Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.
Online Complete an online referral form
Phone Call 0203 317 7979
If you have questions about a referral, or need an interpreter, please call us. The referrals team for this service is available weekdays, 9am-5pm.
This is not an urgent or emergency service. If you need urgent help, please contact your GP, call NHS 111 or if your life is in danger go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department or call 999.
Find out more
We have four videos, covering Sleep Hygiene, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Grounding, and Depression.
You can watch our videos below, or visit our YouTube channel to view all the videos in our Veterans playlist.
Watch our Veteran's experience of Op Courage playlist on YouTube (opens new browser tab)
Watch our short videos below to hear what veterans have to say about our service.
You can also visit our YouTube channel to view all the videos in our playlist, Veterans' experiences of Op Courage NHS Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service.
Watch our Veteran's experience of Op Courage playlist on our YouTube channel (opens new browser tab)
Gemma: "Treatment was hard, but it was worth it"
Stuart: "I can carry on a normal life, instead of the burden of PTSD"
Nick: "I'm back to the real me, the old me, before I had problems"
Jon and peer support: "The biggest step is realising you do need help. You aren't alone."
Experiences of Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS)
Experiences of Complex Treatment Service (CTS)
Charities and communities
Warm Welcome Afghan Service