Some veterans may develop mental health conditions as a result of their service in the armed forces. Common mental health conditions include anxiety or depression, or more complex and less common conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). These conditions are treatable and people can either fully recover or manage their condition to live healthy and productive lives.
Some people may not experience symptoms of these conditions until some years after leaving the armed forces, and the culture of the forces may put you off seeking help.
NHS Scotland and the wider veterans community provides a range of care and support. This includes dedicated mental health services, that offer a range of treatments and self-help advice if you are experiencing mild, moderate or more complex mental health conditions.
The first point of call for accessing NHS care is usually your GP. You can discuss any issue with the GP who can also arrange referral to more specialist services if that is necessary. There are a range of other services, including support for those who may need help out-of-hours.
Veterans First Point
Veterans First Point drop-in services are available across Scotland and were developed by veterans for veterans. This offers a “One Stop Shop” for help and assistance to veterans, and their families, no matter what that need might be, including physical or mental health issues, housing, socialising, education, employment and other issues. For further information visit the Veterans First Point website.
Combat Stress is the UK's leading charity for veterans' mental health and provides support to veterans from every service. It operates a free and confidential 24-hour Helpline (0800 138 1619) to talk about mental health, which family members or cares can use too.
Breathing Space is a free and confidential phone line (0800 83 85 87), aimed at people experiencing low mood or depression. It provides a safe and supportive space by listening, offering advice and information.
Samaritans offers a safe place for you to talk any time, in your own way – about whatever’s getting to you (you don’t have to be suicidal). You can call confidentially, free and from any phone on 116 123.
Bravehound provide companion dogs to veterans and then provide support for both the dog and veteran over the dogs’ life. They aim to support a smooth transition back into civilian life, helping ex-service personnel adjust to living with the visible and invisible wounds of war.
Other mental health resources
Some veterans may sustain physical injuries as a result of their service in the armed forces and these injuries can impact their physical health as a civilian.
Physical injuries will be treated and people will either fully recover or manage their condition to live healthy and productive lives.
Amputation and prosthetics
Complex and severe injuries sustained in by serving in the armed forces may have require limb amputation. If you've lost a limb due to your service in the armed forces and were not fitted with a prosthetic at that time, you can discuss a referral to the NPS with your local GP.
The National Prosthetics Service (NPS) is Scotland's centre for designing and fitting prosthetic limbs.
Scottish War Blinded
Scottish War Blinded support veterans who have developed sight loss or who are sight impaired. The sight loss or impairment doesn’t need to be as a result of their time in the forces. They offer free services to help veterans re-learn vital life skills as well as social and recreational opportunities. You can call them on 0800 035 6409.
Blesma offers support to limbless veterans throughout different stages of their lives. They offer financial, well-being and emotional support to veterans and their families. They’re available Monday to Friday, 9.00am to 5.00pm on 020 8590 1124.
More information on NHS Inform: