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Lib Dems lead debate calling for ringfenced mental health funding for armed forces

March 11, 2020 2:00 PM

Liberal Democrat MP Jamie Stone will today Armed Forces ()lead a debate in Parliament where he will urge the Government to "make it easier for veterans and their families to access peer-led mental health support."

The Highlands MP, who is the Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Defence, secured the Westminster Hall debate after winning cross-party support for his Bill which would require the Government to ringfence mental health spending for veterans and members of the armed forces.

The campaign led by the Liberal Democrats comes in response to cuts which have left mental health charities, such as Combat Stress, no longer able to take on new referrals in England.

On the day of the Budget, Mr Stone will use his debate to raise awareness about the increasing challenges faced by veterans trying to access mental health support.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Liberal Democrat Defence spokesperson Jamie Stone said:

"Since introducing my Bill to Parliament, many veterans have been in touch to tell me that armed forces personnel need access to care provided by people who know how mental health impacts people who have served.

"Most of us will never be able to understand what our veterans have been through. That is why some of the best care available comes in the form of peer to peer support groups. However, Conservative cuts are making it harder for these services to exist, nevermind be set up.

"It's not rocket science. The Government should make it easier for veterans and their families to access peer-led mental health support. I therefore urge Ministers to get serious and back my Bill."

Supporting Mr Stone's campaign, Chief Executive of Combat Stress Sue Freeth, added:

"82% of the veterans treated by Combat Stress have tried to engage with NHS services but their needs have not been met. The government needs to ringfence funding for specialist services such as ours, that understand and can successfully treat those veterans with complex PTSD."