In a welcome development Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Defence People and Veterans, has launched a new initiative to improve the mental health and wellbeing of the Armed Forces, their families, veterans, and Defence civilians.
While rates of mental disorder are slightly lower in the Armed Forces (3.2%) than in the general population (3.5%), the challenge of improving the mental health is an important one.
The Defence People Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy 2017-2022, launched by Mr Ellwood at an international conference with counterparts from the United States, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, builds on five years of research and aims to build a coordinated approach to prevent, detect, and treat mental health and wellbeing issues, as well as introduce measures to promote the importance of mental health.
The new Strategy will include plans to:
Encompass all Defence People – serving Armed Forces members (Regulars and Reserves), military families, veterans, and MOD civil servants;
Introduce standardised mental health and wellbeing education and training for all those working in Defence;
Invest in research on resilience training to ensure that individuals are as mentally fit as they can be to prevent depression and anxiety and monitoring of groups who are more likely to suffer from mental health issues, such as combat troops and medical personnel in support of them;
Improve access to clinical assessment (such as through digital delivery) and prioritisation for treatment;
Develop partnerships with key service charities in order to continue anti-stigma campaigning initiatives and share best practice;
Improve communication to the workforce about what help is on offer.
Today, Ministers will discuss how best to improve the transition into civilian life for veterans, including hearing how Governments may be able to use new technology to bring about new opportunities to make the transition smoother; the importance of partnering with the health and charity sector, and the Armed Forces Covenant.
At Hilary Meredith Solicitors, we welcome any initiative to improve the mental health and wellbeing of service personnel, veterans and their families and wish this scheme every success.