A Surrey NHS trust has pledged greater mental health support for veterans as hospitals around the county marked Armistice Day today (Thursday, November 11).

The Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust said it was "significantly increasing support for veterans and their families with the roll out of dedicated, new services" this week to coincide with Remembrance Day.

The new High Intensity Services (HIS) will include NHS mental health staff working with peer support workers who are either from the Armed Forces Community or highly experienced in working with people from a military background.

Together they aim to help veterans aged 18+ in Surrey and NE Hampshire to receive the right mental health support at the right time. The Trust was previously accredited as a Veteran Aware Trust last year.

The improved offering will add to the NHS-wide Op COURAGE veterans support, and allow veterans to refer themselves directly to the HIS by completing a HIS self-referral form, or be referred by a professional.

Surrey Comet:

Meanwhile, veterans who are experiencing mental health difficulties but who do not need urgent support can still get in touch with the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS), also part of Op COURAGE.

Elsewhere in Surrey NHS services and trusts marked Armistice Day.

At the Epsom-St Helier Trust on Wednesday, for example, Group CEO Jaqueline Totterdell co-signed the Armed Forces Covenant with Colonel Anthony McGrath of 256 Field Hospital (an Army Reserve unit based in London, the city's only Army Medical Services Hospital).

The pair were joined by staff members who are veterans or who have family who have served or are currently serving.

The covenant formalises the Trust’s support for patients and staff who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces or who have family members in the military as well as for military personnel in the wider community – including both health services and employment opportunities

"I could not be more proud than to sign this commitment to our Armed Forces, past and present, and their families on behalf of Epsom and St Helier," Totterdell said. "The Forces and the NHS have so many fundamental things in common: we are a family, we are truly loyal, and we do what we do with pride and love. The one big difference is that in the NHS we do not start our days wondering if they might be our last... And that's why at Epsom and St Helier we are committed to doing everything we can to support those serving full-time in the Forces, reservists, veterans - and the families of all those - whether that be helping their physical or mental health or by providing jobs and careers that use their skills to their best and support them properly in civilian life," she added.