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 East region:
- Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Oxfordshire.
- Kent, Surrey and Sussex
Visit our Op COURAGE website to find out more at www.opcouragesoutheast.nhs.uk
Click through the sections below to find out more about the help available.
Find out more about how we support veterans healthcare
Referring to Op COURAGE from 1 April 2023
From 1 April 2023, Op COURAGE, NHS Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Services, in the South East are being brought together in one service.
Berkshire Healthcare will handle all Op COURAGE South-East referrals, including those for veterans living in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Oxfordshire, and in Kent Surrey and Sussex.
Referrals to Op COURAGE for veterans living in the South West of England will be handled by Avon and Wiltshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
Read our news story to find out more (opens in new tab)
Visit our new Op COURAGE website
Visit the NHS website to find other regional Op COURAGE services
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.
Watch our TILS Introduction video on Vimeo (opens new browser tab)
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.
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.
Watch our CTS Introduction video on Vimeo (opens new browser tab)
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 Talking Therapies or to charities including organisations that work specifically with veterans.
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.
Supporting veterans accessing crisis mental health services
We work alongside other community and inpatient mental health services to help military veterans who are experiencing, or at risk of, a crisis and to their families.
We have 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 are 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) 8am-8pm
To send us an email referral, download and complete the form below and email it to us at:
Open referral form (pdf)
Get advice about a referral from your local clinicians
You can also contact us for advice before making a referral.
Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, and Oxfordshire
Contact the Berkshire Healthcare clinical team.
Call 0118 904 7222 (9am-5pm, Mon-Fri)
Kent, Surrey, or Sussex
Contact the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust clinical team.
Call 0300 304 0657 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)
We provide treatment and support across the South East region, in partnership with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and Walking With The Wounded:
- 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.
Our local 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.
- Refer you and connect you with help for practical problems related to settling in the UK, 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.
Use the online referral form (opens new browser tab)
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
Visit the Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing service NHS website (opens new browser tab)
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)
TILS testimonials from MarComms on Vimeo.
Experiences of Complex Treatment Service (CTS)
CTS testimonials from MarComms on Vimeo.
Charities and communities
Warm Welcome Afghan Service