EXPERTS have urged the government to continue funding mental health training for veterans and serving military personnel, calling it our “moral duty”.
An event at the House of Lords heard how thousands of serving and former personnel, as well as the wider community, had already undertaken the Armed Forces Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) course.
MHFA England, the social enterprise which delivers the training, said it would be a “tragedy” to bring a halt to the work just as the benefits were becoming apparent.
Improving knowledge of mental health
The University of Gloucestershire’s Professor Diane Crone, lead for evaluation of the project, said: “Initial findings from this research project suggest the course improves the trainees’ knowledge of mental health, enhances their attitude towards mental health issues and increases their confidence in supporting those with mental health issues.
“The research evaluation is due to conclude in spring 2016 and we hope that it will provide evidence to support the programme and conclude with recommendations for future practice.”
MHFA England’s patron and the event’s host, Professor Lord Patel of Bradford, added: “Our soldiers, sailors and airmen put their lives on the line for our country and as a nation we have a moral duty to members of the Armed Forces and their families.
“We would be failing in this duty if we stop this training now, just as evidence suggests it is increasing people’s ability to seek help for a mental health issue before it causes even further distress. I call on the government to continue to fund this programme in the years ahead.”
More than 180 health and social care professionals, support workers and friends and family have trained as MHFA instructors. They then delivered the MHFA course to more than 4,500 members of the wider UK Armed Forces community around the world.
Participants learn to spot symptoms of mental health problems, provide initial support and guide a person to appropriate professional help. This training is now a mandatory part of Army welfare officer training and is delivered in collaboration with charities including SSAFA, Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion.
Find out more
Learn about the MHFA course at mhfaengland.org