The Centre is collaborating with the Forces in Mind Trust and the King's Centre for Military Health Research (part of King's College London) in a mental health research programme for ex-Service personnel.

The Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), established in 2012 to help ex-Service personnel and their families make a successful transition back to civilian life, is pleased to announce the launch of its Mental Health Research Programme with an annual disbursement of £1 million for up to 5 years.

Amongst the founding priorities of the Trust are ‘to promote better mental health and wellbeing’ and ‘to build organisations’ capacity to deliver evidence-based prevention and rehabilitation’. Since then, FiMT has worked hard to develop an understanding of the mental health environment, and to identify where the Trust can best deploy its finite resources to maximum effect. As a result, FiMT has established a Mental Health Research Programme in collaboration with Centre for Mental Health and the King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR), part of King's College London.

The Programme is being overseen by a steering group of experts, co-chaired by Professor Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of Centre for Mental Health, and Professor Sir Simon Wessely, co-Director of KCMHR, King’s College London, and President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and incorporates strict protocols on handling the almost inevitable conflicts of interest that work in the field of veterans’ mental health throws up. Other group members include representatives from Combat Stress, Mental Health Foundation, Veterans First Point, Anglia Ruskin University’s Veterans and Families Institute, University College London, University of Portsmouth and NHS England.

The steering group recommends the Programme’s strategic direction, and provides expert assessment to FiMT of relevant project proposals. A key output from the steering group is the programme’s top 6 research priorities, which have now been published (in equal rank order) by FiMT as follows:

  • Alcohol and substance misuse, including effective and appropriate interventions.

  • The usefulness of services aimed specifically at veterans (including peer support workers).

  • Methods to improve help-seeking rates, and barriers to help-seeking.

  • The efficacy of military and veteran charities to provide effective mental health support.

  • The effectiveness of a ‘Recovery’ based model for the veteran population, including a wider focus on employment and debt management.

  • Impact on families, including aggressive behaviour, violence and domestic abuse.

Sean Duggan, Chief Executive of Centre for Mental Health, said: “We know that most Armed Forces veterans make a successful transition to civilian life, but that some face a range of mental health difficulties for which they need extra support. We are delighted to be working with the Forces in Mind Trust to develop research that will build the evidence base about how best to support ex-Service personnel and their families with their mental health needs.”

Professor Sir Simon Wessely, King’s Centre for Military Health Research, King’s College London, said: “King's College London is delighted to be assisting the Forces in Mind Trust on this task. It is very difficult to over emphasise the important role of research in improving the health and well being of ex-Service men and women. Everyone wants to help and support our veteran community, but knowing what actually helps, for how long and why, remains crucial. And that is why we need research to guide investment for the future.”