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Headsted supports Military Veterans

Written by Koen Smets (18 Feb 2016)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the psychological condition which, for most people, would be the first to come to mind when thinking of what might trouble ex-armed service personnel. However, for 20,000 people leaving the forces, the transition to civilian life and the profound changes this represents may lead to feelings of anxiety, depression or stress unrelated to battlefield experiences.

Thankfully there are organizations offering help and support for military veterans, but not all those in need currently access the services they provide. Capacity is inevitably limited and so there are often quite long waiting lists. Furthermore, face-to-face therapy is not the preferred option for some veterans, for practical or personal reasons.

So we are very pleased to be working with the NHS Military Veterans' Service for Greater Manchester and Lancashire, which has been offering Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to its clients for some time. Three of our online therapy programmes, Hold Your Nerve (for anxiety), Value Your Self (for low mood) and Shift Your Stress (for workplace stress) – all also based on ACT – are now available to their clients.

These programmes dovetail perfectly with the existing face-to-face treatment offered, for two reasons. First, they alleviate capacity pressures by offering real help for people while they are on the waiting list (and in some cases they may deliver such strong improvement that face-to-face therapy is no longer necessary). They also lower the barrier to access: users can use online therapy at their convenience, whenever and wherever they want.

ACT has been found to be very beneficial by users of the Military Veterans' Service. One veteran who has received face-to-face ACT from Dr Hannah Taylor, a Clinical Psychologist of the Service, relates his experience: "My therapist showed me how to channel my thoughts, not to get rid of them, but to know that they are there but they do not control my life. I control my life, and my past has happened even though my thoughts were destructive you can have them there, without ruling my every day activities. If you have had trauma and still suffer from the after effects, I advise you to try ACT, take it seriously and you will soon see a difference in your everyday life".

Consultant Clinical Psychologist Dr Alan Barratt, who is the Clinical Lead for the Service, stated, "We are delighted to be able to offer this service to our clients. In giving clients increased treatment choice, it helps us to continue to provide a high quality service and to be at the forefront of providing psychological interventions to veterans".

We are very proud and excited to back to this excellent service, reaching out and supporting Military Veterans with our online programmes. Through the exercises in the programmes, veterans can more easily learn to handle their thoughts, feelings and past experiences, and live their life according to their own values.