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Well-being interventions help ex-Service personnel transitioning back into civilian life

Preventative interventions may have a positive effect on the well-being of ex-Service personnel who are having difficulties making the transition back into civilian life, a new Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) funded-study has revealed.

The systematic review of research literature led by Newcastle University, published in Plos One academic journal, shows the positive impact of well-being interventions such as journaling and relaxation techniques on the lives of ex-Service personnel and their families.

The report highlights four areas to consider in future research and service development:
• What well-being means to ex-Service personnel transitioning back to civilian life
• Acceptability of interventions which may be perceived as treatment
• Further trials of the effectiveness of interventions with diverse groups of participants
• How and when low-wellbeing should be identified in Service personnel

The review looked at nine studies from the United States of America and evaluated the effectiveness of interventions for current and ex-Service personnel. Researchers found the positive effects on well-being was found in those reporting difficulties making the transition back to civilian life and their families.

Evidence from the review suggests a need for future robust trials exploring the effectiveness of well-being interventions for the Armed Forces community as a means to help with the challenges of transitioning back into civilian life.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, said: “What has been revealed, in this systematic review of well-being interventions, is that there may be benefit in making these preventative techniques available to ex-Service personnel experiencing difficulty on the transition pathway. These are popular activities, and it is important that they are evidence based.”

Dr Sarah Wigham, Research Associate at Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience, said: “The review has summarized the evidence base for the effectiveness of well-being interventions for Armed Forces personnel transitioning to civilian life. The review findings will be of interest to those tasked with making decisions about which interventions to fund and develop in the future.’’

You can see the briefing document here and the full review here.

The journal article was published in PLOS ONE, you can read it here http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0189630

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FiMpacT FORUM: ENTERING THE THIRD AGE OF THE FORCES IN MIND TRUST

On Thursday 28th June 2018, the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) launched its ‘Third Age’ at the charity’s FiMpacT Forum held at The QEII Centre in Westminster. The FiMpacT Forum marks the culmination in six years of grant giving, with funding from The Big Lottery Fund, to help ex-Service personnel transition into civilian life.

The Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans gave the keynote speech.

The forum was attended by 150 people including; politicians, academics, charity leaders and ex-Service personnel. An excellent exhibition of work from FiMT grantees enabled organizations and media to see the great work undertaken and enabled through funding by FiMT.

To date, FiMT has given over 100 grants totalling nearly £15 million, most notably over the past year to health and wellbeing related projects. This has included work into ending veterans’ homelessness, partnering with King’s College London on mental health issues and the associated stigma, and producing a guide for care homes with veterans, in collaboration with Cobseo (The Confederation of Service Charities) and Demos (Britain’s leading cross-party think tank).

Launching the Third Age of FiMT, the focus will be on driving forward and sustaining the positive impact upon ex-Service personnel’s lives already achieved by FiMT’s work to date. This new age will also focus on challenging the negative stereotypes around ex-Service personnel.

Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, Ray Lock said: “Our approach identifies six areas for improving the lives of ex-Service personnel – covering Housing, Employment (including training and education), Health and Wellbeing (physical and mental), Finance, the Criminal Justice System and Relationships.

“The Third Age will be an exciting move from being activity led, to strategically impact driven and coherently focused. We’re ramping up the impact of our work, whilst maintaining the generation of knowledge and evidence for which we have become renowned.”

Hans Pung, the Chairman of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “As well as developing the impact of the work we’re already doing, we will also be promoting evidence over anecdote – such as working on altering stubborn perceptions of former Service personnel as “mad, bad, or sad”. We will be doing this through focusing on the real truth of personal lives, and working to establish an evidence base which truly reflects ex-Service personnel’s biographical histories, current situations and future need.”

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Improving transition out of the Armed Forces: engaging families through behavioural insights

The Behavioural Insights Team(BIT) were commissioned by the Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) to assess whether empirical insights from social and behavioural sciences can help Service leavers’ families benefit more from services that support transition from the Armed Forces.

The need for this project came from work around families which FiMT has been developing over the last couple of years, when problems with engagement have been highlighted.

This report identifies the cognitive biases and barriers relevant to accessing services and presents ways in which systems can be designed to reduce them, or work with them.

Ray Lock, Chief Executive of the Forces in Mind Trust, said: “This is the first project we have funded with BIT. Their innovative and scientific approach has offered a unique insight into how service providers can benefit families by improving engagement, both during their time as a Service family and especially as they approach transition.

“The recommendations included in this report offer a range of changes to how services are delivered – such as tapping into Service leaver and family identity; presenting decisions as mattering for today not tomorrow; connecting with social networks; and making that transition easier, not harder. The second phase of this important work is now well underway.”

You can read the full report here.

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