The Deputy Treatment Centre Manager of Combat Stress’ centre in Scotland has received a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to visit the US and Canada to see how they’re supporting families of veterans with mental health problems…

Hayley Thompson, who works at the charity’s treatment centre Hollybush House in Ayr, will spend six weeks in the autumn studying what support is available to partners and carers of veterans in North America.

Among the organisations she’s hoping to meet is a US helpline that educates, supports and empowers family members and friends seeking support for a veteran. Other organisations include those providing domestic violence support, peer support, and help for military spouses.

Hayley, 32, has worked for Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health, for two years, first as a community psychiatric nurse, then a triage nurse, and now Deputy Treatment Centre Manager.

She said: “The effects of veterans’ mental health problems are often felt by the family members caring for them, including children. Support for families is scarce in the UK and lacking in research.

“The services that exist in the US and Canada could provide ideas and real solutions to how we improve community mental health support for families in the UK. This is a fantastic opportunity to learn from them.

“With the right help, families can in turn support veterans after treatment has ended. This extends the veteran’s likelihood of recovery and reduces their risk of relapse.”

Jacky McCafferty, Treatment Centre Manager at Hollybush House, said: “I’m delighted that Hayley has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship. This is a significant achievement for her, as well as for Combat Stress to have a member of our clinical team embark upon such valuable research.”