Mental Health in the Armed Forces: More Than PTSD?

Becky Banham
By Becky Banham,
updated on Mar 16, 2018

Mental Health in the Armed Forces: More Than PTSD?

Prince Harry spoke at the Veterans' Mental Health Conference at King's College London yesterday

Giving a keynote speech to a conference about veterans’ mental health, Prince Harry, who served as an army officer for 10 years, spoke of the suffering he had witnessed of those around him; “struggling to seek out the help they desperately need”.

The event, which brought together academics, charities and policymakers to hear from world-leading researchers and figures within the community, took place under the theme ‘From Enlistment to Retirement’.

In addition to Prince Harry and researchers from the King’s Centre for Military Health Research, the conference featured Tobias Ellwood MP, and further speakers from Forces in Mind Trust, the University of Southern California and the Ministry of Defence.

We all recognised the challenge; that we needed to put our organisational differences aside to better support the Armed Forces and Veteran Community

The event was particularly timely, as it comes only weeks after the news that the NHS is set to launch a nationwide scheme to treat military veterans with mental health issues. The Veterans' Mental Health Complex Treatment Service was designed after former military personnel and their families across England were asked by the NHS how services could be improved. There are concerns that this new service may take funds away from existing charity schemes, but this certainly seems to be a step in the right direction for veteran support.

The Prince, along with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, has recently worked to bring such charities, including Combat Stress, Help for Heroes, The Royal British Legion and Walking with the Wounded together under the banner of Contact, a partner of Heads Together.

He also spoke of the progress that has been made by the military Mental Health sector in the past year. In particular, he hailed the “significant developments” in the way charities worked together as part of Contact. He said each had recognised that “we needed to put our organisational differences aside to better support the Armed Forces and veteran community”.

The Prince also addressed the injustice veterans face in having their mental health issues simplified by society. He said, "Post Traumatic Stress cannot be shorthand for military mental health – and we must challenge this misconception."

Harry said that working with veterans, through his involvement in charitable support and the Invictus Games, he had been “privileged to witness the journey that many men and women have taken - from desperation and isolation, to amazing achievements, regaining self-worth, and finding community once more”.

“Any employer would be lucky to have them as part of your team - and that’s a fact.”

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