Raising awareness at the Veterans’ Mental Health Conference

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Yesterday (14 March) the annual Veterans’ Mental Health Conference (VMHC) took place in London, highlighting the key issues in military mental health.

The annual VMHC, held by the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR), took place in London yesterday. The conference brings academics, mental health practitioners, charities and researches together to support veterans with mental health needs.

Attendees of the event come together to discuss the key issues in military mental health today, what has been done, and what still needs to be done.

This year’s key themes were evidence, innovation and practice.

The conference was opened by Minister for Defence People and Veterans, Tobias Ellwood. The MP highlighted society’s changing attitude towards mental health and the need for equality in how physical and mental health are considered.

Prince Harry was also in attendance. The Duke of Sussex has done extensive work in the area of mental health through the Royal Foundation’s Heads Together project.

While at the event, Prince Harry highlighted the need for a multi-agency approach to mental health support in the UK.

King’s Centre for Military Health Research

The conference is hosted by the KCMHR, the leading civilian UK centre of excellence for military health research.

The centre’s research contributes to domestic policy on military personnel including veterans.

Based at King’s College London, veterans’ mental health is an area the centre researches and supports with hopes to improve mental health services in the UK.

Reflection

Charities, researchers and academics hosted sessions at the conference, some reflecting on the progress that has been made in the area of veterans’ mental health.

A review of recent research was presented alongside evidence of the long-term impact of military service on mental health.

The way the media views veterans’ mental health, why veterans turn to alcohol and why it is difficult to spot problems during service were discussed.

Combat Stress also celebrated 100 years of the charity.

Moving forward

In keeping with the day’s theme, innovation and what needs to be put into practice were popular topics.

The need for a multi-agency, collaborative approach for successful change was highlighted multiple times throughout the day.

Dr Jonathan Leach highlighted what is new in practice and what more needs to be done to help veterans from the perspective of the NHS. Currently, there are three specific programmes from the NHS to help veterans with mental health problems.

Innovations in the approach to empower veterans to seek help and the treatment of PTSD were also presented.

It is estimated that one in five ex-military personnel will suffer with mental ill health. Each year the VMHC highlights the need for more research, better support and a better provision of services to help more veterans.

What more needs to be done to improve veterans’ mental health services? Let us know on Twitter.

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