Forces in Mind Trust funded multi-disciplinary conference on mental health and military transition held at Queen Mary University of London

Leading veterans’ mental health and other experts gathered today (Tuesday 16th May) at Demobbed: the psychological reality of veteran transition in the UK conference at the Wolfson Institute, Queen Mary University of London, funded by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT)

The conference explored mental illness in the context of transition from the UK armed forces. It considered the patterns of illness and recovery, and how public understanding may be focused on the wrong issues.  In particular, it debated whether an emphasis on PTSD may have distracted attention from other more common mental health conditions. This is set against the falling income of military charities since the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan at the end of 2014, as the challenges faced by members of the Armed Forces returning from active service fall out of the public eye.

The conference brought together clinicians, policy makers, military charities and the media, to facilitate debate and encourage further research into an area that is at risk of losing public attention.

The event was sold out months in advance with over 90 guests attending. Speakers from the public health, academic and media sectors provided expert insights and latest research findings, including:  Professor Kamaldeep Bhui CBE, Centre Lead for Psychiatry, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London; Kate Davies OBE, Head of Health & Justice, Armed Forces and Public Health NHS England; Matthew Green, journalist for the Financial Times and Reuters, and author of Aftershock: the untold story of surviving peace. A number of academics who are current recipients of FiMT grants also spoke about their research, including Professor Edgar Jones, Professor in the History of Medicine and Psychiatry at King’s College London who will be delivering a key note speech, as well as Dr Stephen Herron, Research Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast and Dr Nicola Lloyd-Jones, Senior Lecturer, Glyndwr University.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust who also spoke at the Conference on the need to fund research into transition, said: “The Forces in Mind Trust has worked hard to build a greater understanding of veterans’ mental health issues. Since our inception in 2012, one of our key priorities has been ‘to promote better mental health and well-being’ among the ex-Service community. We know that resources are finite, and in some cases actually reducing, and the military charity and health sectors need empirical evidence to understand how to use them to maximum effect. Conferences such as this help to identify public misconceptions of mental health and how these can have a negative effect on wider military health and welfare delivery. The Forces in Mind Trust is very proud to have sponsored this event and hopes that this coming together of academics, policy makers and service deliverers will spark wider debates about how better to support ex-Service personnel and their families to lead successful civilian lives.”

Professor Edgar Jones, Professor in the History of Medicine and Psychiatry at King’s College London, said:  “We rely on the men and women of our armed forces to protect us during times of external threat so it is important that we remain alert to their care and welfare once they have returned to civilian life.”

The full programme of the day was as follows:

First Session

Chair: Professor Kamaldeep Bhui CBE, Centre Lead for Psychiatry, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary University of London

Making Veterans Mental Health a mainstream priority for the NHS and partners
Kate Davies OBE, Head of Health & Justice, Armed Forces and Public Health NHS England

Medically unexplained symptoms in the aftermath of war: UK veterans and civilians compared
‘Goodbye to All That’: summary of findings in context
Professor Edgar Jones, Professor in the History of Medicine and Psychiatry, King’s College London

Closing the gaps: how we can fix military mental healthcare
Matthew Green: journalist and author, Financial Times and Reuters

Second Session

Chair: Professor Edgar Jones, Professor in the History of Medicine and Psychiatry, King’s College London

How counter-insurgency warfare experiences impact upon the post-deployment reintegration of land-based British Army personnel
Dr Stephen Herron, Research Fellow, Queen’s University Belfast

Leaving the Armed Forces and Living in North Wales: An exploratory study of decision-making as a civilian
Dr Nicola Lloyd-Jones, Senior Lecturer, Glyndwr University

Is there really a need to fund research into military transition?
Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust


Notes to Editors

Ray Lock is available for interviews.  To arrange an interview please contact Kate Turner at or on 07919 887 036 or 0207 284 6944.

About the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT):

FiMT came about from a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund (‘the Fund’), Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and other charities and organisations.  FiMT continues the Fund’s long-standing legacy of support for veterans across the UK with an endowment of £35 million awarded in 2012.

The mission of FiMT is to enable ex-Service personnel and their families make a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life, and it delivers this mission by generating an evidence base that influences and underpins policy making and service delivery.

FiMT awards grants (for both responsive and commissioned work) to support its change model around 6 outcomes in the following areas: Housing; Employment; Health and wellbeing; Finance; Criminal Justice System; and Relationships.

All work is published in open access and hosted on the Veterans’ Research Hub.  A high standard of reportage is demanded of all grant holders so as to provide a credible evidence base from which better informed decisions can be made.

Useful links

Who we have helped:
Twitter: @FIMTrust
About the Mental Health Research Programme:

About Queen Mary, University London

Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is one of the UK’s leading universities, and one of the largest institutions in the University of London, with 23,120 students from more than 155 countries.

A member of the Russell Group, we work across the humanities and social sciences, medicine and dentistry, and science and engineering, with inspirational teaching directly informed by our research. In the most recent national assessment of the quality of research, we were placed ninth in the UK (REF 2014).

As well as our main site at Mile End – which is home to one of the largest self-contained residential campuses in London – we have campuses at Whitechapel, Charterhouse Square, and West Smithfield dedicated to the study of medicine, and a base for legal studies at Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

We have a rich history in London with roots in Europe’s first public hospital, St Barts; England’s first medical school, The London; one of the first colleges to provide higher education to women, Westfield College; and the Victorian philanthropic project, the People’s Palace at Mile End.

Today, as well as retaining these close connections to our local community, we are known for our international collaborations in both teaching and research.

QMUL has an annual turnover of £350m, a research income worth £125m (2014/15), and generates employment and output worth £700m to the UK economy each year.

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King’s College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2016/17 QS World University Rankings) and among the oldest in England. King’s has more than 29,600 students (of whom nearly 11,700 are graduate students) from some 150 countries worldwide, and some 8,000 staff.

King’s has an outstanding reputation for world-class teaching and cutting-edge research. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) King’s was ranked 6th nationally in the ‘power’ ranking, which takes into account both the quality and quantity of research activity, and 7th for quality according to Times Higher Education rankings. Eighty-four per cent of research at King’s was deemed ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (3* and 4*). The university is in the top seven UK universities for research earnings and has an overall annual income of more than £738 million.

King’s has a particularly distinguished reputation in the humanities, law, the sciences (including a wide range of health areas such as psychiatry, medicine, nursing and dentistry) and social sciences including international affairs. It has played a major role in many of the advances that have shaped modern life, such as the discovery of the structure of DNA and research that led to the development of radio, television, mobile phones and radar.

King’s College London and Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital and South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trusts are part of King’s Health Partners. King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre (AHSC) is a pioneering global collaboration between one of the world’s leading research-led universities and three of London’s most successful NHS Foundation Trusts, including leading teaching hospitals and comprehensive mental health services. For more information, visit:

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