Veteran considers moving out of Wiltshire to get better mental health care

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A veteran says he is considering moving out of Wiltshire because he believes its mental health services are so poor.

Karl Tearney, from Trowbridge, has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving in the army for 35 years.

He says the support available to him in Wiltshire lags far behind the help he has had elsewhere.

The Army Air Corps veteran was medically discharged from the army in 2018. The cumulative experience of flying helicopters in multiple war zones - especially the Balkans - left him emotionally fraught, anxious and prone to uncontrollable sobbing.

"One of the hardest things I'd found in Bosnia was that we weren't allowed to do anything," he said.

"We were observers - and when you're observing things that you can't have any input into controlling, it becomes really difficult to process."

Karl Tearney served 35 years in the Army Air Corps. Credit: Karl Tearney

The army transferred Karl to the care of the NHS community mental health team in his hometown of Andover, Hampshire. They then provided therapy and oversaw his anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medication.

But when Karl moved to Trowbridge in Wiltshire for family reasons, his situation deteriorated. He says he was told by the county's Primary Care Liaison Service that as he had a diagnosis and medication, he wouldn't qualify for community mental health support.

Feeling he had nowhere to turn, on two occasions Karl ended up at a hospital A&E.

"What's important to understand is that when you're feeling suicidal, there's two factors that are driving that," Karl said.

"One is that you feel hopeless and helpless and there's nobody that can care for you, and two; you feel like you're a bit of a burden on society."

Karl Tearney (left) serving in Bosnia. Credit: Karl Tearney

A&E staff referred Karl back to his GP surgery on both occasions. But according to Karl the GPs he saw couldn't help him. It was only when he eventually got NHS funding to see a psychiatrist back in Hampshire that his care resumed.

The veteran now travels 40 miles to Andover for appointments. He is considering moving back there to get what he believes is better care in a different county.

"I want it to improve," Karl said about Wiltshire's services. "It's just got to improve. People's lives are being put at risk here."

The Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership provides mental health care across Wiltshire and Bristol.

A spokesperson for the service said: "Demand for mental health services is at an all-time high, which unfortunately can lead to people having to wait for treatment. We are sorry for the distress this causes.

"We do ensure that all urgent and emergency referrals are seen as quickly as possible."

Click here for more helpful links to mental health support