Dorset HealthCare has come together with representatives of the armed forces to sign a Corporate Covenant Pledge to recognise its commitment to better support and enhance the care available to veterans living in Dorset.
This pledge has arisen as the size of the ex-service community in the UK is currently estimated to be at 10.5 million and, of this number, 89,000 are estimated to be living in Dorset. New figures also reveal that veterans aged 16-64 are more likely than the general population of the same age to report a long-term illness, 24% versus 13%, which includes depression, heart problems and diabetes.
Stigma concerning mental health problems is particularly problematic for military forces. Strong masculine norms among military personnel can make it difficult for individual’s to report or seek help for a psychological problem for fear of being labelled a psychiatric patient which may have an adverse effect on their career. The pledge aims to address these stigmas and provide better awareness of the services available in Dorset.
Andy Gritt, Locality Manager for Mental Health at Dorset HealthCare and Trust Lead for the Armed Forces Community within the Trust, said: “This pledge was developed by the Trust’s Access and Equalities Development Teamand aims to improve access to services and the creation of tailored plans of care. We want to reduce the stigmas facing members of the armed forces experiencing difficulties accessing health care including mental health issues, this is particularly key for individuals and their families finishing their service. As part of this, we have created a Transition Toolkit as returning to civilian life presents unique challenges and many can find this difficult once the discipline and routine of the military is removed.
“We recognise the huge value and contribution of serving personnel, both regular and reservists, veterans and military families within our community. Each and every individual deserves to receive care that will support and rehabilitate veterans and their families and this pledge marks our ongoing mission to reach this goal.”
Jon Beake, Regional Employer Engagement Director for Wessex Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association, added: “Dorset HealthCare’s public adoption and signing of the Corporate Covenant during their annual members’ meeting demonstrates their high levels of employer support towards Defence personnel and their families, including Reservists, Armed Forces Veterans and Cadets. We value any employers’ commitment, but Dorset HealthCare has developed some far reaching pledges and we are keen to work with them, and other Dorset organisations, to build further support for mutual benefit.”