Afghanistan: Government will not provide extra mental health support to veterans after Taliban seize country

Help for Heroes said: “There’s going to be a lot of veterans wondering ‘what was the purpose?’”

The Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan has prompted fears of a return to severe punishments and the restriction of women’s rights under the militant group’s interpretation of Sharia law.

It has also raised questions from those who served time there as part of the UK’s Armed Forces, helping to remove the Taliban from power and prevent the country from becoming a safe haven for international terrorists.

Many veterans are now seeking help from mental health charities in response to the Taliban’s return to power.

Help for Heroes said it is increasingly hearing of veterans and family members who are feeling distressed as a result of the current situation in Afghanistan.

Sarah Jones, Head of Psychological Wellbeing at the charity, said: “There’s going to be a lot of veterans wondering ‘what was the purpose?’”

NationalWorld asked the Cabinet Office if further support would be made available to those who served in Afghanistan in response to the recent events in the country.

A spokesperson said that the Government has invested £17.8 million in funding for veterans’ mental health services this year to ensure that they “get the mental health support they need”.

An additional £10 million has also been invested in the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to distribute to charitable projects supporting veterans’ mental health needs.

When pressed again on whether this meant the Government had not considered implementing support for service personnel affected by the events of the last week, a spokesperson said veterans of any conflict who had been affected by the situation in Afghanistan could utilise the support already there for them.

A Cabinet Office Spokesperson said: “We encourage anyone who may be suffering to access the specialist care available to them.”

“Earlier this year we launched the veterans mental health and wellbeing service Op Courage, which provides a clear single route for accessing specialist care through the NHS,” the spokesperson added.

Where can I access support?

Although no additional support is being provided in light of recent events, pre-existing support is ongoing, which veterans can access in a number of ways.

Veterans’ Gateway provides information, advice and support for veterans and their families both overseas and in the UK.

Help for Heroes also provides support for veterans and their families, and is urging those struggling due to the current situation in Afghanistan to get in touch with a member of their team.

Veterans and their families in England can be referred to specialist NHS Op Courage services by their GP, and in Wales, you can reach out to Veteran Therapists in each Local Health Board through Veteran Wales.

Veterans in Scotland can access veteran-led mental health and welfare support through Veterans First Point and the Northern Ireland Veterans’ Support Office links individual veterans, veterans’ groups, statutory and non-statutory bodies, and charities supporting Veterans in Northern Ireland.

If you require urgent and immediate support, you can also contact the Samaritans on 116 123 or [email protected]