The fifth Veterans’ Mental Health Conference took place at King’s College London on Thursday 14 March. The annual event brings together leading academics, charities and policy makers to network and to hear the latest research on military mental health from speakers of world-class reputation.
High profile guests include the Duke of Sussex, who has attended the conference three years running, and the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood, Minister for Defence, People and Veterans who gave the opening address.
Ahead of the conference Mr Ellwood said:
“As a former soldier and current Reservist, I’m passionate about doing all we can to support the brave men and women in our Armed Forces, including the millions of veterans who have given so much to the nation.
“For too long the issue of mental health has been misunderstood and we are working incredibly hard to break down the stigma around mental health. I’m pleased this conference will bring together academics, charities and policy makers to help us drive progress and facilitate a meaningful discussion on the latest military mental health research.”
Following the morning session, the Duke met some of the speakers including Professor Zahava Solomon from Tel Aviv University, Ms Kacie Kelly from the George W Bush Institute and Dr Heidi Cramm from Queens University, Canada.
Organised by King’s Centre for Military Health Research (KCMHR) and sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT), the theme of this year’s conference is evidence, innovation and practice. As well as influential UK and international researchers, the conference featured perspectives from Combat Stress, Contact, the NHS and the BBC.
KCMHR is the leading civilian UK centre of excellence for military health research. Co-directed by Professor Sir Simon Wessely and Professor Nicola Fear, KCMHR draws on the experience of a multidisciplinary team, many of whom feature in this year’s conference, including Professor Wessely, Dr Dan Leightley, Professor Edgar Jones, Dr Dominic Murphy and Professor Neil Greenberg.
Commenting on the day’s events, Professor Greenberg said:
“We are delighted that for the fifth year running this conference has been such a great success. Being able to welcome the Duke of Sussex back for the third time has been a real honour, and we were thrilled that the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood was able to give the opening address.
“Having a forum to exchange ideas with colleagues in academia, the military, the public sector and Service charities is of huge benefit to the whole team at KCMHR. We hope all the attendees find the conference beneficial in working to improve the lives of service personnel, serving or retired, and their families.”
Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said:
“This is the forth year we have sponsored this important annual knowledge sharing and networking event and we are proud to do so.
“The theme of this year’s conference, ‘Evidence, Innovation and Practice’, reflects the importance of the work that Forces in Mind Trust do. We use the evidence we generate, and completed by many of the attendees here today, to enable policy makers and service providers to be better informed in the decisions they make with regards to the Armed Forces.”