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Portsmouth MP urges Ministers to swiftly address ‘all time low’ mental health provision for troops

Stephen Morgan MP urged ministers at departmental defence questions in the House of Commons today to review the ‘all time low’ mental health services provision for forces personnel.

Government figures show that the number of service personnel being seen by the MoD’s Specialist Mental Health Services for an initial assessment has fallen by 36% since 2013 – the lowest it has ever been.

The figures raise questions as to why over fewer Forces personnel are being seen by the MOD’s Specialist Mental Health Services each year than there were nearly a decade ago.

The Government set out in its Defence People Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2017-2022 the aim that Forces personnel have “timely access to safe, effective and innovative mental healthcare services”.

Yet since the strategy was launched, the number of Forces personnel being assessed and treated by the Specialist Mental Health Services annually has fallen by 1900 from 5,083 in 2016/17 to just 3,156. Just 1 in 50 are now assessed by the MOD mental health service.

The news comes as the Armed Forces Bill, which Mr Morgan is leading the Official Opposition’s response on, returns to the Commons next week on Tuesday. The Bill contains provisions to try and improve mental health support for Forces personnel. Labour wants to force the Government to review all current mental health provisions for Forces personnel.

The Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South and Shadow Armed Forces Minister, Stephen Morgan, said:

“It cannot be right that just after the passing of Armed Forces Day, service personnel are still being failed by this government in providing effective mental health services.

“Service personnel are now more willing to seek help to support their mental health, but the government is once again letting them down. Labour’s commitment to support our Armed Forces is an enduring year-round promise, not just when it is politically convenient. This government is big on rhetoric, but short on delivery.

“I will continue to demand the services our troops deserve from Ministers and will urge them again next week at the final reading of the Armed Forces Bill in the Commons to review all current mental health provisions for Forces personnel.”