New approach to help Wearside troops

Soldiers board a Chinook at Lashkar Gah in Afghanistan.

Soldiers board a Chinook at Lashkar Gah in Afghanistan.

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HEALTH professionals and support workers joined forces on Wearside in a bid to fight the problem of war-time trauma.

GPs, carers, drug and alcohol counsellors, local authority workers, charity volunteers and members of staff from the criminal justice system attended the New Approach event at NHS Headquarters, at Sunderland Enterprise Park.

Organiser Gary Cameron, director of support group Military Mental Health North East, said one in four of those attending would encounter a veteran with some form of mental health problem during their working lives, with an estimated 45 per cent of GPs claiming it is one of the single biggest medical complaints among patients.

“The event went really well,” said Mr Cameron. “We had over 15 booked on this workshop-based training.

“The attendees came from an array of specialist backgrounds and expertise within their own field.

“We had local NHS and PCT staff, including GPs, members of staff from the criminal justice system, drug and alcohol workers, local authority staff plus staff from local charities and third-sector organisations.

“The discussions and debates were both informative and thought-provoking with a positive and realistic outcome focused approach to change.”

The recent publication of the White Paper, No Health without Mental Health, set out a new cross-Government strategy, which aims to “move mental health into the mainstream” and improve standards of care, support and treatment.

Mr Cameron, from Seaham, decided to launch his Wearside-based group two years ago after he suffered severe depression upon leaving the Armed Forces.

“The areas and issues and problems that were covered included combat and stress impact, post-traumatic stress disorder and its effects and military culture and identity.

“We also covered homeless issues, the local picture and the impact of drug and alcohol among the ex-military and how this relates to the large numbers in the criminal justice system.

“Delegates also had the chance to challenge, discuss and debate the issues and gain relevant insight into veterans issues relevant to their professional roles.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho