The recent events in Afghanistan have brought into focus the mental health of veterans, but our member Dr Justin Havens says many will be unaware of the support available to them.

Justin, a psychological therapist and military veteran, said there’s a challenge to ensure armed services personnel in psychological distress access the treatment they need.

Justin, who served with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, is a Cheltenham-based BACP-accredited therapist who specialises in trauma and is an EMDR consultant.


“For some veterans who served in Afghanistan, it may awaken memories and they might think that the whole campaign was a waste of time,” he said. “It can also awaken memories for veterans from other conflicts too.

“A lot of effort has gone on over the last 10 to 15 years to improving mental health support for veterans.

“Within the NHS there’s a network of intervention, liaison services and complex treatment services across the country. Then there’s the charity sector as well, such as Help For Heroes and Combat Stress.

“One of the issues is it’s a difficult group to reach and treat.

“There’s been a lot in the media about veteran suicides and why isn’t more help being given to our forces, but the reality is getting people to access treatment is a difficult issue.

“More needs to be done to reach them.”

The government has announced that armed forces charities will receive £5 million in additional funding to support those who have served, including those who may be struggling following recent events in Afghanistan.


It aims to help increase the user friendliness and accessibility of services, better signposting veterans to the range of state and charitable services available to them. This will help to make mental health services more accessible to the Afghanistan veteran cohort, the government said.

The Office for Veterans' Affairs will allocate the funding over the coming months to a range of projects that will increase capacity in mental health charities, improve veterans' understanding of the support available and deliver enhanced social support.

Leo Docherty, Minister for Defence People and Veterans Leo Docherty, said: “We are forever grateful to the serving personnel and veterans who aided the people of Afghanistan, and will ensure they get the support they need and deserve in the most accessible methods possible.”

To speak to a local BACP counsellor or psychotherapist, visit our Therapist directory.