The initiative has been developed collaboratively by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and the Royal Foundation to promote awareness and management of good mental fitness within the Armed Forces Community and to prevent the onset of poor mental health.
The mental fitness initiative will be delivered via the mental health and well-being approach for Defence people and incorporated into annual and key career leadership training, supported by a video led campaign and website with self-help tools to aid in the understanding and awareness of mental fitness, and help personnel to maximise their potential.
The evaluation will consist of a series of questionnaires, interviews and focus groups with Defence people as well as with key stakeholders, to assess the acceptability and feasibility of the different elements of the initiative for military and Defence personnel. Results will be analysed to identify potential improvements to both the initiative and its implementation, prior to the full-scale roll-out across the Armed Forces.
Ray Lock, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust, said: “The initiative developed by the MOD and The Royal Foundation is a progressive step in supporting the mental health of our Armed Forces. The evaluation of HeadFIT, funded by FiMT, will enable us to better understand what works in practice to support the mental well-being of our Service personnel during, and in the transition out of, service.”
Dr Sharon Stevelink, Lead Researcher, King’s College London, said: “We are looking forward to working with the MOD and The Royal Foundation to ensure that this initiative is independently evaluated. The aim of our evaluation is to help to improve the programme and ensure the initiative reaches its full potential. The study builds on our previous work evaluating health and well-being interventions in the Armed Forces and other trauma-exposed organisations. We are excited to be able to continue to help improve the mental fitness and readiness of military personnel throughout their military careers and beyond.”
Representative MOD, said: “The MOD has undertaken a comprehensive overhaul in our approach to mental health, beginning at the outset through promoting positive mental health and well-being, providing leadership support and reassurance regarding the effective treatment available.
We cannot do this alone, working with our partners outside of Defence is critical to getting this right. The importance of collaboration and partnerships with organisations such as FiMT, the Royal Foundation and King’s College London remain key to continuing our sustained focus on mental health and well-being ensuring that Life in the Services remains a rich and rewarding experience.”
David Wiseman, The Royal Foundation, Head of Programmes: Supporting Those Who Serve, said:
“This is an important programme; a legacy from the Heads Together Campaign that we hope will change the way Defence People think about mental health. The focus of this work is the good management of good mental fitness – what should everyone be doing every day to proactively look after themselves and to unlock their potential instead of considering our mental health only when there is a problem.
The evaluation conducted by King’s College London will provide information that will enhance this work, and everyone is grateful that the Forces in Mind Trust are able to support this research.”
About King’s College London
King’s College London is one of the top 25 universities in the world (2017/18 QS World University Rankings) and among the oldest in England. King’s has more than 26,500 students (of whom nearly 10,400 are graduate students) from some 150 countries worldwide, and nearly 6,900 staff. The university is in the second phase of a £1 billion redevelopment programme which is transforming its estate. http://www.kcl.ac.uk
About Forces in Mind Trust
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. http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/.
The mission of FiMT is to enable ex-Service personnel and their families to make a successful and sustainable transition to civilian life. FiMT delivers this mission by generating an evidence base that influences and underpins policy making and service delivery, and by strengthening the Armed Forces charities sector through collaboration and leadership, and by building its capacity.
FiMT awards grants (for both responsive and commissioned work) to support its change model 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 Forces in Mind Trust Research Centre’s Veterans and Families 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.